Goals from Steven Fletcher and Nick Powell earned Stoke City a 2-0 win at Luton.
Michael O’Neill spoke to the media straight after full-time to run the rule over the afternoon at Kenilworth Road.
Another clean sheet and another away win. Textbook?
Michael O’Neill: If we score twice every week and keep a clean sheet every week then we’re going in the right direction. It’s not going to happen like that!
But today we were pleased. I thought first-half there wasn’t a lot in the game. I think we got a wee bit of a nearly performance I said to the players at half-time, but I think we addressed that in the second half, particularly the first 20 minutes of the second half. I thought we were excellent.
Obviously we had to defend later in the game which is natural when you’re away from home and have a two-goal lead but overall it was a good day for us and a lot of things to be positive about.
Nick Powell was instrumental in those 20 second half minutes?
We played 3-4-3 so he was playing off the left and he’s played there for us previously in a 4-3-3 so he’s capable of doing that.
It’s good because he has to be a little bit more disciplined in that position, which is what we need from him. When he is disciplined and plays in that way, he’s an extremely good player as you see.
Not only his ability on the ball, he wins headers, he’s a goal threat and he linked well with Steven Fletcher. It was a good performance from Nick.
Nick Powell took some treatment as well?
Yes, he took a few heavy knocks. Look, it was a physical game. Challenges were there.
Luton have had a very good start to the season and showed why. We had to stand up to that and when we got the chance it was important we took it.
Steven Fletcher showed exactly why you brought him in?
Yeah, he’s a good player. We know that. People always look at when you sign a player at 33 and wonder if that’s the way to go but to get Steven in the club with no transfer fee involved with his quality was a big plus for us.
He’s in great physical condition. I still think he showed that.
His intelligence and quality of play is very good and it’s important the other players link well with him, which I think Tyrese does and Nick did as we saw today.
That’s what you want to see from Tyrese Campbell?
I like him playing off the right in that situation. We forget at times that Ty is only 20, he’s a young player. We had Nathan Collins, Harry Souttar, Josh Tymon, all 21 and under playing in the team. That was a positive.
Ty when he plays off the right, he’s up against a full-back more often than not than a centre-back and that probably helps him a little bit physically. He looked a threat every time we could get him the ball today in that area of the pitch.
Are Fox and Chester injured?
Yes. Fox has a tight calf, Chester also with a tight calf. McClean has a foot injury too. Jordan Cousins is still coming back. We’ve got a few bodies to get back.
It was good to get through the game while missing a few players.
And absences give a chance for someone like Nathan Collins to stake a claim?
It is. It was a little bit more difficult for Nathan playing on the left rather than his favoured side on the right.
But I thought he did well. First half I thought he found it tough to get his distances and him and Josh struggled a wee bit with Cornick, who looks a threat and a good player.
But second half we handled him well and Nathan showed a lot of composure at times both in and out of possession.
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Adam Davies a ninth clean sheet in 13
He’s done extremely well since he came into the team.
The changes we’ve made to the goalkeeping department with Jack leaving and Angus Gunn coming in provides us with competition and bring a young goalkeeper into the club, which I think is a real positive.
Adam is not going to give the jersey up easy but competition for places is healthy and Angus is going to provide that.
You wish Jack Butland well?
Of course we do. I’ve only had Jack since November but he’s been a big player for Stoke for seven or eight years. He broke through to the England team as a Stoke player which is a big thing for the club and a big thing for him as well.
But the situation was with his contract and everything that it was probably the best thing in everyone’s interest to cut that tie. We wish Jack well. We hope he can get back to his best.
As a club we move on, we bring Angus in and we’ve obviously got a very good goalkeeper in place at this minute in time as well.