Richard Barrett reporting live from FAI HQ
The wounds of Ireland’s disappointing
5-1 home defeat to Denmark are still very much at the forefront of Irish minds, as Martin O’Neill looks to exact revenge on Saturday.
Speaking to the media at FAI HQ ahead of Saturday’s clash with Denmark, the Republic of Ireland manager was quick to underline the importance of righting the wrongs of the 4-1 defeat to the Danes.
“Denmark obviously beat us last year, we want to address that. The squad trained fully today, including Shane Long, so we are all good to go.
“The crowd don’t need re-energising, we need to energise the crowd. There is a huge support coming tomorrow. The fans have been really supportive of the team and it is up to us on the field of play to do something about it.”
On the squad selection, O’Neill lamented the trouble of utilising players that are not playing regular football.
“Club football is very important. We don’t have the luxury throughout the squad of players playing every week for their teams. In an ideal world, it would be great if they were playing in the big leagues, regularly.”
The ghost of ‘international breaks past’ reared its head once more when O’Neill was pressed about the infamous Stephen Ward Whatsapp message. O’Neill, clearly not a user of the service himself, was quick to dampen rumours about Ward’s exclusion from the squad being a direct result of his social media behaviour.
“Stephen went under the knife on Monday or early Tuesday. He had a problem with the back of his knee. In terms of his Whatsapp, I think he’ll take himself off the Whatsapp if such a thing is possible on the Whatsapp.”
One player who is very much a central part of O’Neill’s plans for Saturday is Jeff Hendrick.
“Jeff Hendrick is definitely going to start. He is one of the major players and he’s ready to go.”
Hendrick, clearly pleased about learning of his starting berth, was quick to lavish praise on the positive influence Roy Keane has had on him recently.
“After the Wales game I sat down with Roy Keane. He went through aspects of the game I could improve on and that helped me in the Poland game. It’s always good to do that. Personally, I thought my performance was better (as a result). I’ll keep picking his brain. He played in the same position as me.
“I always enjoy playing for my country. We all want to get a result on Saturday and that is what we’ve worked for. We’re hurting after the last game. The fans hurt. We’ve had a good week’s training and we’re gonna [sic] make sure we get the result we need. “
Denmark travel to the Aviva Stadium on Saturday evening without talismanic midfielder Christian Eriksen. You can see the full Ireland squad here.