"Him not playing helps, but Wales have been able to win matches without him".
Ireland head into Friday night's World Cup qualifier against Moldova knowing anything other than victory over the Group D basement boys could end their hopes of making it to Russian Federation next summer.
Wales is ranked second in Group D, a point behind group leaders Serbia, while Georgia is fifth with five points. The Serbs had looked nailed on for top spot and automatic qualification but they cannot afford any slip ups at home to Georgia on Monday now.
Wales is second, a point behind Serbia, with the Irish another point further back.
O'Neill's men knew they could relax slightly going into this final qualifier after Scotland'searlier draw ensured Northern Ireland a place in the play-offs.
Runners-up from eight of the nine European qualifying groups will contest the play-offs in two-legged ties, with the four winners progressing to the World Cup. The misfiring Shane Long, on the other hand, is by no means guaranteed to retain his place in the team, and O'Neill may prefer to use the Tipperary native as an impact sub, a role in which he has proved effective in the past, most notably during the famous 1-0 win over Germany two years ago. It doesn't really worry me because we have to win the game.
O'Neill's men are still pushing for qualification for the 2018 World Cup in Russian Federation, and they face a tense last-day showdown against Wales on Monday night.
Going into that match, Ireland had the exact same task ahead of them, with their only avenue for advancement to the last 16 being a win.
He plays the defensive role brilliantly and can free the likes of Hoolahan and the returning Robbie Brady and James McClean to do what they need to.
O'Neill feels the absence of right-back Coleman, who broke his leg when the nations last met in March, is just as big for his team.
He said: "No, I don't think that will have any bearing on it".
There will be a great atmosphere, albeit a hostile one, and I just hope there is no nastiness or controversy and we don't do anything silly in the build-up to wind them up. Gareth Bale led Wales dominated play throughout the encounter setting up promising chances in front of goal.
"Our boys are good at coming through these situations because they are good at sticking to a game plan". That will be vividly evident during the national anthems tonight when, in a rare change of protocol, the players have asked for "Land Of My Fathers" to be cut short so that 30,000 proud Welshman inside the Cardiff City Stadium can loudly finish the job.