O'Brien backing Irish teammate Darren

Joey O'Brien believes Darren Randolph can help the Republic of Ireland to Euro 2016

Joey O’Brien will be an interested observer on Friday evening as Darren Randolph and his Republic of Ireland teammates take on Bosnia-Herzegovina for a place at Euro 2016.

The five-cap Ireland international has missed most of this season with a niggling calf injury, but will be cheering his teammates on from afar in their crucial play-off.

Randolph was called into action for Ireland’s last two qualifiers after No1 Shay Given suffered an injury and O’Brien believes, if selected, his Hammers colleague will step up to the plate.

He said: “I’ll obviously be supporting as a fan, I think looking at the draw and the possible teams we could have got, we might have got a slightly easier team. On the other side, you definitely wanted the away leg first. To have the second leg at home is a massive boost and an advantage, that’s a big plus.

“It’s a tough game; they’ve got some quality players. I don’t think they get enough recognition as they probably deserve, but when you look at their team, they’ve got some very good players. I’m sure we’ll see their quality on Friday night. Most of their players don’t play in the Premier League, but in other top leagues in Europe so we know they are strong and can’t afford to underestimate them.

“I fancy Ireland, with the second leg at the Aviva, it’ll be a great night and I’m sure the boys will get there.

“Darren is a laid back guy. I think that helps him quite a lot. You could see it when he came on in the Germany game, it was a difficult situation to come into but he did fantastically well. Obviously, I’m not quite sure what the mentality of a substitute goalkeeper is, it must be hard thinking you won’t really be needed. But to come on and to perform to the level that he did was outstanding.

“Earlier in the season he got an opportunity and had three games where he did very well. He was our best player against Bournemouth even though we got beat; it could have been a real cricket score without him.”

As for his own fitness, O’Brien is ready to show what he can do when called upon.

He added: “This injury kind of came at a terrible time for me really, personally. We were in the Europa League qualifiers; I was playing in those games and doing quite well. I was hoping to start the season, and then I picked up an injury in the last European game which kind of hung around a bit.

“It wasn’t too serious really but it hung around and I couldn’t shake it off. By the time it was all sorted it was four or five weeks into the season. Obviously the lads have been great so it’s been hard to get back into the team.

“Injuries are obviously a big part of football. And now I’m waiting for my chance, I’m confident my opportunity will come at some point sooner or later. It’s a long season, and you never know what might happen with injuries or loss of form.”