Tuesday 21 August 2018

Ireland v Denmark: O'Neill ends training early over spy fears

Martin O’Neill and Roy Keane keeping a watchful eye on their players during training at the Telia Parken Stadion in Copenhagen last night. Photo: Reuters
Martin O’Neill and Roy Keane keeping a watchful eye on their players during training at the Telia Parken Stadion in Copenhagen last night. Photo: Reuters
Daniel McDonnell

Daniel McDonnell

Martin O'Neill limited his pre-match training session in Copenhagen last night because of fears that Danish representatives could see his strategy from the offices overlooking Parken Stadium.

But he has stressed that the Irish plan to negotiate their World Cup play-off will be sticking with what they do best.

Martin O'Neill is anticipating a tricky night. Photo: Sportsfile
Martin O'Neill is anticipating a tricky night. Photo: Sportsfile

The Irish boss is on good terms with his Danish counterpart and former team-mate Age Hareide but tackled the suggestion that his side are easy to read by responding that the hosts can be predictable too.

O'Neill is anticipating a tricky night, yet has called on his players to draw on the attitude that got them through an agricultural game in Cardiff to make this stage.

He believes the manner with which Ireland eked out that result is indicative of a new-found mental strength from registering wins in games of substance.

"The players have matured," says O'Neill.

"There is a good belief in the camp that maybe didn't exist a couple of seasons ago. It's an inner self-belief, not one that is flaunted, that we can come out here and compete.

"We know we must compete for almost everything at every given minute. While every national side has limitations somewhat, we're going to try stay as strong as we can and play to our strengths. That is the most important thing and something that we do."

O'Neill's injury worries have cleared up with Jeff Hendrick and Stephen Ward fit to take their places in the side.

His main selection issues are deciding between Daryl Murphy and Shane Long and identifying a replacement for David Meyler, with Glenn Whelan the leading candidate.

James McClean in training at the Parken Stadium in Copenhagen where a tricolour hangs from the stands. Photo: Sportsfile
James McClean in training at the Parken Stadium in Copenhagen where a tricolour hangs from the stands. Photo: Sportsfile
Glenn Whelan, Jeff Hendrick, Robbie Brady, Daryl Murphy, Stephen Ward and John O’Shea in good spirits during squad training at Parken Stadium in Copenhagen last night. Photo: Sportsfile

Robbie Brady should feature in a central role and the goalscorer in the away leg of the Euro 2016 play-off with Bosnia two years ago is optimistic about the challenge that Ireland face tonight and on Tuesday.

"The last couple of years have shown we are capable of producing in big games," said the Burnley player. "We are close to a World Cup and it's there for the taking for both sides."

Brady is one of the few Irish players going into the match without a yellow card hanging over him - that's because he has already served two suspensions in this campaign.

Ireland have nine potential starters on a booking, including the entire back four, although Denmark are in similar territory with star man Christian Eriksen one of those who is a mistimed tackle away from disaster.

"I don't think we can focus on that," said Brady. "We have a job to do but if we can avoid yellows it would help us along the way."

Hareide expects a physical game and the home camp have spoken about the need to break down the Irish spirit that lies behind their unbeaten away record in this campaign. Brady smiled when that prospect was put to him.

"They can try," he replied. "We have our homework done and we're ready."

Irish Independent

Sport Newsletter

The best sport action straight to your inbox every morning.

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport