David Meyler is convinced the Republic of Ireland will be heading for the World Cup finals in Russia.
Ireland take on Denmark on Tuesday evening having emerged from the first leg of their play-off in Copenhagen with a 0-0 draw and knowing their dreams will live or die on what happens back at the Aviva Stadium.
Martin O’Neill’s men have produced their best when they have needed it most during the manager’s four-year reign to date, beating Germany, Italy and just last month, Wales when the alternative was simply not an option, and Meyler is expecting more of the same this time around.
The Hull midfielder said: “This is stuff you dream of as a kid. Everybody wants to play at a World Cup and we are 90 minutes away from it.
“If you look back at when we started the campaign with Serbia away, this is where we wanted to be, this is the goal.
“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’ll be going to Russia.”
That will be easier said than done with Denmark, who are ranked seven places above the Republic by FIFA, still smarting from the stalemate at the Parken Stadium, where keeper Darren Randolph repeatedly denied them.
O’Neill’s side has been vaunted for its durability rather than its easiness on the eye with Denmark midfielder Thomas Delaney admitting trying to break them down was like attempting to “open a can of baked beans with your bare hands”.
The 65-year-old knows a different approach may be required this time around with a score draw enough to send the Danes through, but he makes no apologies for playing to the strengths of his players.
He said: “It would be lovely to have a prolific goalscorer in the side that you can turn to. If you don’t have that, then you have to try to find other ways.
“That is what we have been trying to do, we have been trying to find ways for the last couple of years to win matches when we don’t maybe possess that (goalscorer).”
He added with a smile: “It was a shame that when I came in here, Robbie Keane was the same age as me, unfortunately.
“We haven’t had that and we have to try and find other ways to do it. But there is a terrific spirit in the camp, a great never-say-die spirit and we have to take it one more time.”
Should the game finish 0-0, extra-time and possibly penalties may be required to separate the sides and Ireland have prepared for just that eventuality.
However, O’Neill knows from experience that all the preparation in the world cannot replicate that moment, illustrating his point by reference to the 1984 European Cup final in which Roma’s Falcao and Toninho did not step up for a shoot-out against Liverpool.
He said: “I’ve done it umpteen times before, both as a player and as a manager. Generally speaking, those lads who volunteer to take them in practice won’t take them in matches.
“Remember that great final between Liverpool and Roma? A couple of great Brazilians, the best players in the world, downed tools and wouldn’t take them.”
Source: By PA Sport Staff