Full Ireland squad ready to ‘go one more time’
Martin O’Neill expressed support for Liam Miller who is battling pancreatic cancer
Martin O’Neill says his Ireland team are ready for Tuesday’s playoff against Denmark. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho
Martin O’Neill says that his players are ready to “go one more time” at the Aviva on Tuesday night when the manager will have a virtually full squad to choose from for the second leg of the World Cup play-off against Denmark.
O’Neill, meanwhile, has expressed support for Liam Miller, the former Celtic and Republic of Ireland midfielder who, it has been revealed, is returning home from the United States to undergo treatment for pancreatic cancer.
“It’s terrible news. I gave him his debut at Celtic, he played very well one evening in the Champions League he was outstanding. We heard this news recently, we weren’t sure how serious it was but our hearts go out to him; I think he has three children. It puts everything in perspective.
David Meyler, appeared at the pre-match press conference alongside his manager, and he believes the team will do enough against the Danes to progress to the tournament stages of the competition next summer.
“Everybody wants to play in the World Cup and we are 90 minutes away from that now,” said the midfielder who is set to return to side and, perhaps, captain it again. “We can draw on the Euros but this is different. But I do believe we will be going to Russia.”
O’Neill agreed that having come through the play-off stages two years ago might well to stand to many of his players now but, he said, “I think they will want to create their own experience. The crowd have been tremendous and hopefully they can help pull us through again too.
“I think the players have learned a lot (from the past two campaigns), the art of defending when you need to hold on to a lead and of coming from behind; they are terrific experiences but it’s boiling down now to one match and we have to find a way of winning that match.
“We will be a bit more expansive if we can; try to deal with the ball a little bit better but we have got to find a way to win the game and these payers have been good at doing that. It only takes a minute to score a goal and the moment a goal is scored that eradicates a lot of things; it eradicates the possibility of extra time and penalties.”
The game, he suggested, would most likely be more open than in Copenhagen; “the Danes have the players to exploit that, I think they will think that they are capable of getting a goal. We are going to have to try to open the Danes up but we are going to have to be very careful on the counter attack. We will create some chances but we have to take them when they come.”
All of the players involved on Saturday night are set to be available again but Newcastle goalkeeper Rob Elliot has retuned to England after a family bereavement and a final decision on his involvement in the matchday squad has yet to be made.
“The turnaround is nothing new to us or to our opponents - three days, it’s the format now; two games in relatively quick succession in international matches,” added O’Neill. “But I think they are ready to go; physically, it was a very demanding game but I think they are ready to go one more time.
“We’ll have a look at them to see how they are. 10 of those lads started against Wales as well. But I think they are ready for the game, physically... mentally, and mentally is as important as anything.”