SOUTHAMPTON midfielder Will Smallbone heaped praise on interim Republic of Ireland boss John O'Shea, adding: "I owe him a lot."

Smallbone previously worked with the ex-Manchester United defender in Ireland's under-21s and at Stoke City, where he spent last season on loan.

O'Shea is now in temporary charge of Ireland as their search for a permanent manager rumbles on following Stephen Kenny's exit in November 2023.

Smallbone provided an assist and was named man of the match during Ireland's 2-1 win over Hungary this week - O'Shea's first win as boss.

Despite a hectic season, which has seen the 24 year old play more football than ever, Smallbone explained he feels like he owes O'Shea and Ireland top performances.

Smallbone told the Irish Times: “I’ve played over 50 games (this season) and it’s always tough to keep going.

"But when you get the call, and especially from John (O’Shea), I feel like I owe him a lot to come in and try to help him put in a performance.

“It’s been a very good last few months for me, obviously winning at Wembley last month and then coming in here, winning the match and getting the man of the match.

"It’s very special for me personally. I can’t thank John enough for everything he’s done for me throughout my short career so far, and hopefully for a long time to come.

“I’m really happy for him to get the win. I think he set us up really well and you can see his qualities as a manager coming to fruition now.

“I’ve loved working with John from under-21s to Stoke and now, it’s gone full circle and carried on for maybe longer than I thought it would have.”