CORK'S David Meyler is in line to feature against Wales in tonight's titanic tussle at the Aviva, and will start if James McCarthy fails a late fitness test.
The tenacious midfielder has appeared twice to date in the World Cup qualifying campaign from the bench and the 27-year-old has the Premier League experience with Hull City to step up to the plate if Everton's McCarthy is ruled out with a hamstring injury.
Former College Corinthians and Cork City player Meyler will have to curb the influence of the talented Welsh trio Joe Allen, Joe Ledley and Aaron Ramsey, even if all the focus has been on Real Madrid attacker Gareth Bale in the build-up.
There is a strong Leeside connection to the Irish set-up this time out, with Bandon's Conor Hourihane and Bishopstown's John Egan also in the extended squad, under the watchful eye of assistant manager Roy Keane.
Ireland will tackle Euro 2016 semi-finalists Wales with a depleted squad with Shane Duffy, Ciaran Clark, Harry Arter, Wes Hoolahan and Daryl Murphy missing through injury and Robbie Brady through suspension.
However, while bemoaning his misfortune, O'Neill saw players step up to the plate in France as the older guard moved aside and is confident there are others waiting in the wings to prove they are ready to do the same.
He said: "We've lost a couple of good players, but I think we have players who can come in, who want to come in and they want to play.
"Regardless of what league they're in, they want to play as strongly as possible. They want to get a place in the team, which is great news.
"With us qualifying for the Euros last year and our achievements out there at the time, younger players just want to come in and be part of it - and not just part of the squad, they want to be in the team."