Ireland ready for final hurdle

The Republic of Ireland travel to Copenhagen on Saturday to face Denmark in the World Cup qualifiers play-offs.

Eire will try to eliminated the 1992 European champions and reach the World Cup finals for the first time since the tournament was held in Japan and South Korea 15 years ago.

The stakes are equally high for Denmark who have failed to qualify for the last two major tournaments following their exit from the Euro 2012 after the group stage.

The Boys in Green reached the play offs thanks to a 1-0 victory away to Wales in their final qualifier in Group D, whilst Denmark finished second behind Poland in Group E.

Key to Ireland overcoming the Danish Dynamite will be how they contain the threat of Christian Eriksen.

The Tottenham playmaker has scored eight goals so far in the qualifying process, more than any other midfielder.

The Green Army is unbeaten in their last four games against Saturday’s opponents, winning their last two meetings.

Furthermore, their last away loss in away play-off match, a 1-0 defeat to Iran back in 2001.

In terms of meetings in Denmark, both teams have identical records: two wins, two draws and two losses, the last of which, a 4-0 victory for Eire.

The Danes will be pleased that centre back Simon Kjaer is fit again after suffering a hamstring injury while playing for Sevilla.

Ireland on the other hand are without several key players.

David Meyler is suspended, whilst James McCarthy, Jonathan Walters and Richard Keogh are all out through injury. Important, though, is the fact that Burnley’s Jeff Hendrick has recovered from a gluteal problem and Stephen Ward is also fit to play despite missing training earlier in the week.

Whatever happens on Saturday night, both sides know that neither of them that nothing will be decided before Tuesday’s second leg at the Aviva Stadium.

Denmark:

Goalkeepers – Kasper Schmeichel (Leicester City), Frederik Ronnow (Brondby), Jonas Lossl (Huddersfield Town), Jesper Hansen (Midtjylland)

Defenders – Andreas Chistensen (Chelsea), Simon Kjaer (Sevilla), Jannik Vestergaard (Borussia Monchengladbach), Zanka (Huddersfield Town), Andreas Bjelland (Brentford), Jonas Knudsen (Ipswich Town), Peter Ankersen (Copenhagen), Jens Stryger Larsen (Udinese)

Midfielders – Lasse Shone (Ajax Amsterdam), William Kvist (Copenhagen), Thomas Delaney (Werder Bremen), Lukas Lerager (Girondins Bordeaux), Mike Jensen (Rosenborg), Christian Eriksen (Tottenham Hotspur)

Forwards – Pione Sisto (Celta de Vigo), Viktor Fischer (Mainz), Nicolai Jorgensen (Feyenoord), Yussuf Poulsen (RB Leipzig), Martin Braithwaite (Middlesbrough), Andreas Cornelius (Atalanta), Nicklas Bendtner (Rosenborg)

Republic of Ireland

Goalkeepers – Darren Randolph (Middlesbrough), Rob Elliot (Newcastle United), Colin Doyle (Bradford City)

Defenders – Ciaran Clark (Newcastle United), Shane Duffy (Brighton & Hove Albion), Richard Keogh (Derby County), John O’Shea (Sunderland), Kevin Long (Burnley), Stephen Ward (Burnley), Cyrus Christie (Middlesbrough)

Midfielders – Glenn Whelan (Aston Villa), James McCarthy (Everton), Jeff Hendrick (Burnley), Conor Hourihane (Aston Villa), Harry Arter (Bournemouth), David Meyler (Hull City), Eunan O’Kane (Leeds United), Daryl Horgan (Preston North End), Robbie Brady (Burnley), Callum O’Dowda (Bristol City), Wesley Hoolahan (Norwich City)

Forwards – James McClean (West Bromwich Albion), Aiden McGeady (Sunderland), Shane Long (Southampton), Scott Hogan (Aston Villa), Daryl Murphy (Nottingham Forest), David McGoldrick (Ipswich Town), Aiden O’Brien (Millwall), Sean Maguire (Preston North End)

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