Anytime that Martin O'Neill opens his mouth the media between now and May people are going to interrupt him to ask about his thought's for the Republic of Ireland squad for the Euros.
At both the launch for the League of Ireland, and the announcement of the Celtic Pure plant expansion - Euro 2016 wasn't far from people's minds.
For his part, O'Neill teased us with his thoughts - claiming that there are only ten to 12 players who would be nailed on to be part of the 23-man squad barring injury:
There will be a group of players – I think all of us in this room could pick 10, maybe 12 – that we all agree would be there, injury apart. But there are definitely places up for grabs. It’s something I would genuinely have to consider.
While it does seem unlikely that O'Neill only has half of his squad in mind especially because O'Neill only used 25 players in qualifying to get to France. It gives some players a chance to force their way into the reckoning. O'Neill is looking at other players who may not have played in qualifying, and did hint at two in particular that are particularly interesting him:
I’ve got to pick 23 players and we’ve a couple of games coming up in March which I’m going to use as – experimentation may be kind of too strong – but certainly to bring in players who’ve been in and around the scene for a while but maybe not played too much.
Those players that were singled out were Bournemouth's Harry Arter, and Brentford's Alan Judge. Arter in particular looks like he'll be given every chance to make the squad, and could make an impact in Euro 2016, via the 42:
He (Arter)’s a fine little player, wants to get on the ball, wants to do things with it and he will most certainly be one of those players that I would like to get a game for – either Switzerland or Slovakia, or I will possibly even start him in both.
As for 27-year-old Alan Judge, O'Neill praises his enthusiasm and attitude - two attributes that O'Neill loves in his midfielders:
I’ve seen a great deal of young Judge. He’s nearly on my doorstep at Brentford, not that far away. He’s got great enthusiasm, wants to be in the squad, his attitude is just absolutely A1 and he’s another one that I’d want to give a chance to in some of these matches coming up.
Probably the best thing that O'Neill did divulge is that how he will be judging players for the squad. It's very tempting to reward elder statesmen who got you to the tournament, but O'Neill says he won't be afraid to look at form and might choose an inexperienced in-form player over the safer and more trusted option:
The most important thing is to look at players’ form and see how their playing and what they did, say, six or seven months ago. Are they capable of reproducing that? Has their form dipped at club level? Do they need a confidence boost?
Maybe there’s someone who doesn’t have the experience at international level but is absolutely tearing it up at club level. It may not be the Premier League – it might be the Championship but it just can’t be ignored. And closer to June, those are the things that become very important.
The door just slightly opens for many.