Martin O’Neill admitted his ‘depleted’ Republic of Ireland team had been ‘second best’ in their 4-1 Nations League loss to Wales in Cardiff.
Goals from Tom Lawrence, Gareth Bale and Aaron Ramsey left the home side leading 3-0 at half-time while Connor Roberts got in on the act early in the second half before Shaun Williams netted Ireland’s minor consolation strike.
For O’Neill it was a hard night, coming barely 11 months on from a famous World Cup qualifier win in the same Cardiff City Stadium. The Irish boss wasn’t going to pull too many punches afterwards.
“We were well beaten. It was a difficult game for us,” he told reporters.
“Wales were better than us. They possess a world class player in Gareth Bale along with some other exceptional Premier League players.
“They can play a bit and we were second best.”
The likes of James McClean, Shane Long, Harry Arter, Robbie Brady and James McCarthy were missing from the Irish set-up and O’Neill suggested his squad is badly stretched.
“We were missing James McClean, who hurt himself, and we were missing five Premier League players, which didn’t help,” he added.
“We are a bit stretched at the moment, but we might get a few back next month, we might not, but we have to do better.
“We need to be at full strength. I’m not certain the last time we’ve been at full strength, but I’ve not known when we have been this decimated.”