David Meyler set for Irish midfield role against Germany
Hull player likely to line up alongside James McCarthy and Jeff Hendrick
Eunan O’Kane, John O’Shea and Stephen Ward during Ireland squad training at the FAI National Training Centre in Abbotstown. Photograph: Donall Farmer/Inpho
In his most recent book Roy Keane recalls the time Adrian Chiles turned to him as they stood on the pitch ahead of a game between Juventus and Chelsea and made a remark about how great it was to be at such an occasion.
“I used to play in these games,” the Corkman observed rather less enthusiastically. “Yeah, I can see where you’re coming from,” Chiles replied.
For Keane, being in the dugout must be about the most tolerable way to get through a game like Ireland’s against Germany when he is obliged to watch from the sidelines but how he must wish he could be out there with a green shirt on tomorrow night. And he’s far from the only one.
With Glenn Whelan suspended, David Meyler looks set to join James McCarthy and Jeff Hendrick in the Irish midfield, an utterly critical area for the home side if they hope to avoid being swept away by the world champions.
“They should do, yeah,” says the former Manchester United star, “that’s what the game’s about. Obviously there has to be a bit of tension, a bit of nervousness and that’s good from a player’s point of view; it keeps you on edge, it’s good for your concentrations levels.
“But as a player you want to play against the best. You test yourself against the best. And we are up against a very, very good team. But we went over there (and got a draw). There’s no doubt that they’re in a lot better form than when we last played them but I think we’re a better team too. So again, look forward to it, enjoy it and see what happens.”
Meyler did well in Gelsenkirchen at right back but may be asked here to take over the defensive midfield role normally performed by Glenn Whelan.
But Hendrick has a knack for the more creative side of things as he showed when he set up John O’Shea for Ireland’s late equaliser in Germany last year and more recently, when teeing up Jon Walters against Georgia last month.
“Jeff’s an attacking-minded midfielder. People talk about bravery in the game but bravery doesn’t necessarily mean in the tackle. It’s about being brave in terms of possession, going forward, not being afraid to make a mistake, take risks, forward passing. And I think Jeff does that well,” said Keane.
Particular onusRobbie Brady
“Maybe there’s other parts of the game they mightn’t be brilliant at in terms of getting the ball back or tackling,” says the former Ireland skipper.
“You have to bring something to the party and I suppose that is their mindset, being brave and getting forward. And whatever’s been said, we will get opportunities to do that on Thursday. That’s where the bravery comes in: don’t be afraid to make a mistake, particularly if you’re 20 to 30 yards out from goal.
“I might be jumping out of my seat if the lads are trying something on the edge of our box but further up the pitch that’s what you’re in the team for. Take chances, be brave. That’s what all the top players in the world are: nice and brave and clever. But there’s a time to do it and a time not to do it.”
Hendrick himself still sounds just a little surprised to be such a major player in such a high-stakes drama but, he insists, he has grown used to life on the international stage since he made his senior debut against Poland a couple of years ago. .
“Yeah, obviously,” he says. “The first few times I was really nervous and the adrenalin is pumping and you get through the games that way. Now, I’m not as nervous and when I get on the ball, I feel I’ve got to do something; I can’t just take the easy option every time.”