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Gary Breen feels the Republic of Ireland must get a positive result in their first game if they are to have a successful Euro 2016 campaign.
Ireland struggled at Euro 2012 - losing all three group games - and they face an uphill battle to progress from Group E to the knockout stages of Euro 2016 with games against Belgium, Italy and Sweden.
First up for Ireland is a meeting against Sweden on June 13 and, while he admits it will be a tough game, Breen believes victory at the Stade de France would give the team the confidence they need ahead of their final two group games.
"It's a tough group, but I think the first game is massive because it sets the tone.
I'm sure the Swedes are the same - they know how important it is," Breen is quoted as saying in the Irish Daily Star.
"We need to start well. If you get a positive result early on, your confident will no doubt lift. Then it's up to you. It's all about momentum in these tournaments.”
O'Neill has until June 1 to finalise his 23-man squad for Euro 2016 and he will get the chance to assess his players in the friendlies against the Netherlands and Belarus.
While form is important, Breen admits it is not the only thing O’Neill must consider.
"People talk about form going into it and players not playing for their clubs; that's irrelevant,” the former Ireland international said.
"When you get that squad, and when he picks his final squad, he has got to find the right chemistry in terms of who if going to play where, who is going to complement one another, who can cover certain scenarios if there are injuries.
“If we get a good start, you just don't know.”