Ireland boss calls on Brady and Hendrick to make their mark
Martin O’Neill has called on Euro 2016 stars Robbie Brady and Jeff Hendrick to recover their French form and drive Ireland to the World Cup by inspiring a victory over Denmark tonight.
The Ireland manager believes the midfield pair are capable of moving up a level from their performances in regular qualifying with suspensions and a loss of form limiting the Burnley duo’s influence.
They still played their part in key moments with Hendrick creating the winner in Wales and Brady assisting equalisers against Georgia and Serbia.
But the manager has challenged the childhood friends to do more.
“Some players maybe in certain games haven’t played as strongly as they have (before) but that’s just part of the whole game,” said O’Neill, responding to a query about Brady by bringing his club-mate into the discussion too.
“This is where we’ve arrived, this is where we’re at now, and it will need big performances in the Aviva.
“Robbie, Jeff and I think all those boys who forged great reputations in the Euros know that but they should take something from it (French memories). While every minute has not been glorious for them, they are still capable of doing it.”
O’Neill believes that Ireland might need to score twice to advance with last Saturday’s scoreless draw in Copenhagen leaving them vulnerable if Denmark manage to score an away goal.
He said Ireland will take a more expansive approach but that was questioned by his opposite number Age Hareide who believes that Ireland will be equally conservative.
And O’Neill’s old team-mate stoked the fire by indicating that he would find it hard to send out a side with what he believes to be the Irish mindset.
“I think they’ll play in the same way,” said the Norwegian.
“I don’t expect them to go higher than they did in Copenhagen, they just want us to make a mistake. That’s OK.
“I haven’t got the patience to play like that. We will try to attack Ireland and try to get a goal, and then we’ll take it from there. If you look at the stats from qualification Ireland played better away from home than at home and scored more goals away from home.”
But stand-in Irish skipper David Meyler – who returns from the suspension that kept him out of the first game – offered a bullish take from the home camp.
“We’re going to go and try and win the game and I believe we will,” said the Corkman.
“This is what you dream of as a kid. We need to go and perform now and I fully believe we’ll be going to Russia.”