| 17.4°C Dublin

Dunne: It won't sink in until the final whistle

RICHARD Dunne is still walking on air but the practical mind of a centre-half is keeping him anchored to the ground.

While his heart is telling him to live it up and enjoy the moment, his head wants him to knuckle down and do the things which have hauled Ireland to the brink of Euro 2012 qualification.

"We're not taking it lightly and we won't be walking out complacent and let them score one. We're going out to win the game and that's why the professionalism has to still be there and aggression to win the game.

"It's not about trying to see it through or enjoy an easy game, we know it's definitely going to be harder than Friday night. They'll have 11 men and you always have to take into account the referee. It could be us with people sent off."

"They've nothing to lose - like us in Paris. They can come flying at us and give it everything they have," he said, following the Giovanni Trapattoni message of respect, attitude and professionalism.

"He's seen it all before. We know when the game comes around we're ready.

"We know the other teams inside out and we know our positions inside out."

For every practical thought he has, another more flighty notion passes through his mind and it is entirely understandable that the certainty of qualification should have him so divided.

"It won't really sink in until the final whistle tonight and it's 100 per cent confirmed. We went to Estonia hoping to come out of it still in the game and hoping to finish it off in Dublin and the way it worked out over the 90 minutes, it's hard for ourselves not to become complacent about it and think that we have qualified.

"But the manager has been telling us for the last few days about being professional, for the fans and out of respect for Estonia who are obviously going to come as a team hurt and until that final whistle goes, it will not be real."

Looking forward beyond tonight, Dunne will use every dress rehearsal opportunity he can find for the trials ahead in Poland and the Ukraine.

"We're going to be playing among the top 16 sides in Europe.

"Every game will be a massive game and if we're not on our top game, it could happen to us what happened to Estonia the other night. We could get hammered.

"We've got to go into every game 100 per cent and make sure we do ourselves proud."

Dunne does not expect any major change to the squad between now and next June and, so far, he hasn't had any communication from one Villa Park team-mate in particular.

"He probably doesn't even know we've qualified," said Dunne when Stephen Ireland's name was mentioned.