Friday 17 November 2017

'I only see one outcome, Ireland are going to the World Cup' - Captain Meyler sounds battle cry

David Meyler (left) warms up during training in Abbotstown alongside Wes Hoolahan and Jeff Hendrick. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile
David Meyler (left) warms up during training in Abbotstown alongside Wes Hoolahan and Jeff Hendrick. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile
Cian Tracey

Cian Tracey

One of the more peculiar ways of describing the difficulty of breaking down Ireland's rigid defensive system came courtesy of Thomas Delaney over the weekend.

"We tried and tried, but it was a bit like opening a can of baked beans with your bare hands - it takes time," the Denmark midfielder said in a wonderfully back-handed manner.

One of our Danish friends dangled the bait in front of Martin O'Neill in yesterday's press conference but he wasn't about to bite, while to his left, David Meyler smiled wryly.

It wasn't until later on that Meyler referred to Delaney's comments but he did so in a way that flipped any perceived negativity on its head.

A captain's role? Perhaps. Meyler is expected to return to the starting line-up this evening whilst also reclaiming the armband.

O'Neill typically remained unperturbed when asked if the fact Meyler was sitting next to him pointed to the manager recalling him as skipper but the Cork native nevertheless sounded the battle cry.

"Look, it's simple, we have got to go and win a game of football," a defiant Meyler said.

"Every game we go into, we approach it the same way. Even the game in Denmark, the lad said it was like trying to open a can of beans with your hand, it's not like we are going to roll over and be easy to beat.

"We're not going to be easy to beat. We want to go and win the game. We want to qualify for the World Cup.

"We're not going to lie openly and let Denmark roll us over. We just need to go out and perform and as the manager said, we need to score goals and I believe we will."

Meyler's brief will not be to score goals but rather, stop them. That is unless Ireland's World Cup fate is decided by a penalty shoot-out, in which case Meyler will happily step up and take one.

The squad practised spot-kicks in Abbotstown yesterday after which, O'Neill curiously revealed that Meyler had missed one. Cue another wry smile from the man to his left.

They will hope that they get the job done in 90 minutes but one thing is for certain, Meyler won't give up his dream without a fight.

"Obviously as a kid, you dream of it," the Hull City midfielder maintained.

"I spoke before, I have memories of the '94 World Cup, running around the house in an Ireland top.

"Looking back at the sacrifices I had to go through and to have this opportunity of being 90 minutes away from a World Cup is huge.

"I don't want to go out, none of us do. We will do everything within our power to make sure we qualify. If you look back when we started the campaign, Serbia away, this is where we want to be. This is the goal.

"Obviously the Euros was a great experience and we can draw on that but we need to just go and perform tomorrow night and I believe fully that we will be going to Russia."

Meyler missed the first leg in Copenhagen on Saturday due to suspension and watched from the stands as Ireland ground out a scoreless draw that leaves their destiny in their own hands.

"I only see one outcome, I think Ireland are going to the World Cup, I don't think anyone will stand in our way," Meyler enthused.

"They are a very good team, very good players, but they don't have the character and the heart and the desire that we have. I believe in the manager, I believe in the players, I believe in all the back-room staff. I believe in everyone and I believe we will go to the World Cup.

"He (O'Neill) is tactically alert, a very educated man. I could probably tell you everything about the Denmark team because we have studied them, we know everything about them.

"That starts with him. He knows everything about them, it feeds through into the players. He is a great man-motivator, he gets people going.

"Whether it might be that five yards, that extra pass, that extra tackle, he gets it out of people.

"Any time our back has been up against the wall, we have come out and we have produced a result.

"We've been watching them all week. We're fully prepared for them. It's down to us to get a result and put in a performance."

Irish Independent

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