Drogheda United have completed the re-signing of defender Lloyd Buckley, who will be eligible for Friday’s First Division league opener ...Wed, Feb 21 2018
REPUBLIC OF IRELAND
The Republic of Ireland host Denmark at the Aviva Stadium (kick-off 7.45pm) in what could be the most important international game ever staged in the country.
Certainly, there hasn't been quite so much at stake in past play-off games here, where the first leg has generally taken place in Dublin.
The 0-0 draw in Copenhagen on Saturday night may not have been the most compelling or exciting game but Ireland were relatively comfortable throughout.
The failure to get a goal away from home could bite Ireland if the Danes manage to score in Dublin, but the pressure has shifted from Ireland to the Danes since Saturday.
“We'll have a look to see how players are,” Martin O'Neill said in his pre-match press conference.
“Most played 90 minutes on Saturday. We are ready physically and mentally.
“We've practiced penalties. You can practice all you want but it's all about doing the business on the evening. We have people who want to take them and that is half the battle.“
Goalkeeper Rob Elliot has returned to England due to a family bereavement and has been replaced by Colin Doyle.
David Meyler returns from suspension and is likely to captain the side, while there are no other suspensions.
Failure to gain a win in Stockholm wasn't in the script for Denmark, who had expected to take a commanding position to the second leg in Dublin.
Ireland dug in and frustrated the Danes on a poor-quality surface at the Parken Stadium – Denmark dominated possession but created little.
Nevertheless, manager Age Hareide saw little to suggest the second leg will proceed any differently to the first, and is confident that one goal will be enough for his side.
“Everyone is fit,” Hareide told reporters at the pre-match press conference.
“We just have to continue after the game in Copenhagen which ended 0-0. We will try to get a goal - that is our main goal. If we get one goal, they have to score two.
“I think we have to speed up our passing. We just have to try high speed, and less touches on the ball. We have to take the game to Ireland and try and get through.
“It is always easier to stop a team from playing than create. That's why creative players are more and more important in football, to get space and take on people. That is why they are so valuable for the team to get them going.
“Teams try to lock down, that's natural and there is nothing wrong with that, but we will try to find the space to get Christian [Eriksen] on the ball.”
Denmark have no injuries or suspensions to contend with.
Referee: Szymon Marciniak (Poland).
Before Saturday's 0-0 draw, the sides had last met ten years ago in a friendly in Aarhus, Denmark. Braces from Shane Long and Robbie Keane gave Ireland an easy 4-0 win.
The sides have met 14 times in total, with Ireland holding a slight upper hand with five victories to Denmark's three, and six draws.
Ireland's record in Dublin is also better, with three wins, three draws and just one defeat from seven games.
In competitive games, the two teams are all square, each winning three games, although the two most recent draws saw Ireland finish ahead of the Danes and qualify for the 1994World Cup.
Republic of Ireland 9/4; Draw 15/8; Denmark 8/5.
Republic of Ireland 1 – 0 Denmark
Republic of Ireland
Unavailable: Rob Elliot.