Date: 2nd August 2010 at 5:38pm
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O’Neill admits we were well beaten last night by Benfica, but there are plenty of positives to take from the game.

Speaking on the Official Site following the 4-1 thumping O’Neill admitted there was a world of difference when it came to the fitness and sharpness of both teams over the 90 minutes.

‘It was a proper test, it will bring us on immensely. I have learnt more from this game that I did from the match the night before.’

Commenting that the fitness levels of Benfica, their sharpness and how comfortable they were on the ball is something that we must clearly aspire to.

‘The game was very important. We played against a side who always keep the ball, they played some little ones twos, and you’re chasing the game for good periods of the match. Maybe not now, but eventually it should stand us in good stead.

‘The game showed the kind of levels that Benfica are playing at and what we have to achieve.’

As an overall positive, Monny thinks the games against Feyenoord, Benfica and the home Valencia clash should help give the players a real appetite for European games this season.

‘These are the games for players who do not have a great deal of European experience. For instance, Marc should be going to the video and having a little look. Against Feyenoord he was able to go past two or three players and then suddenly a couple of Benfica players were quick, closing him down, closing that space and making you think. That is as good a lesson as any.’

It was certainly a disappointing night. We were no where near our best although we did pick things up in the second half.

That said it’s hard to put too much stock in pre season matches because they are about fitness first and foremost.

If we needed a 4-1 drubbing as a wake up call for some of the players I’d have much rather have had it last night, than in a fortnight.

The highlight has clearly been Albrighton coming in, and Lichaj clearly improving but it would’ve been nice to see far more of others to see if they could step up.

Namely Bannan who hardly put a foot wrong but could’ve done with 90 minutes straight to see whether he can hack it over the time without disappearing. At the moment he looks like a brilliant supersub to come on and give something different, especially as he doesn’t mind shooting from 35 yards and again it would’ve been nice to see far more of Clark especially as – both with injuries and performances – our defence looks hugely dicey at the moment and if push comes to shove and Clark has to start against Wet Spam it would’ve been nice for him to have got more pitch time first.

Although to be fair, that hardly effected him against Fulham last season did it.

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