Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 26 May 2016

Nations Cup: McCann excited by demolition derby

By Graham Luney

Published 08/02/2011

Grant McCann can’t wait to scrap with Scotland — but it’s the Republic of Ireland showdown that really gets his juices flowing.

Northern Ireland open their Carling Nations Cup campaign against Craig Levein’s side next week but the Green and White Army will be shouting from the rooftops in Dublin’s new Aviva Stadium when the Republic are in the firing line on Tuesday, May 24.

There will be no hiding place for any players on either side as Irish pride is on the line.

And this time, the Peterborough United midfielder hopes to be in the heart of battle, rather than an interested observer in the stand — just like in 1993.

“I can remember being at Windsor Park looking on from the stands as Northern Ireland and the Republic drew 1-1,” said McCann.

“There was a great atmosphere at the game and it was wonderful to watch so to get the chance to play in the game would be extra special, a real career highlight.

“It isn’t a qualifying game but it’s always a special occasion.

“The atmosphere will be electric and although I’m looking forward to all the matches, this one should be a cracker. Our fans are superb and when the atmosphere is special it adds to the occasion and the players appreciate it.”

The derby showdown is given added spice by the FIFA ruling on player eligibility, meaning the Republic can select Northern Ireland-born players if they haven’t played a senior competitive international.

McCann said: “As players we get on with the job as we have no control over these matters but my view has always been that if a player’s heart is not in the cause then he’s no use.

“There is no point in him playing for Northern Ireland if he wants to compete for someone else.”

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