Belfast Telegraph

We have got to capitalise on Danes slipping up: McCarthy

 

Welcome bonus: Mick McCarthy’s Republic of Ireland side received a qualifying boost when Group D rivals Denmark were held by Georgia in Tbilisi last night
Welcome bonus: Mick McCarthy’s Republic of Ireland side received a qualifying boost when Group D rivals Denmark were held by Georgia in Tbilisi last night
John Egan

By Aidan Fitzmaurice

Mick McCarthy has challenged his players to make the most of Denmark's slip-up in Georgia last night by going there next month and winning.

Irish hopes of automatic qualification for Euro 2020 got an unexpected boost when the Danes were held to a very frustrating 0-0 draw in Tbilisi, on a night when Switzerland outclassed Gibraltar 4-0.

Assistant manager Jon Dal Tomasson, deputising in Tbilisi for the absent boss Age Hareide, and captain Christian Eriksen were lashed by the Danish media for the performance and result as Denmark missed out the win which would have taken then level with on points with the Republic.

A win for McCarthy's side in Tbilisi and a draw in Geneva three days later would leave them in a strong position to qualify, and could take the pressure off ahead of the Dublin clash between the Republic and the Danes in November.

"I'm delighted it was a draw but the onus is still on us to go out there now and pick up points in October," McCarthy said last night.

"Georgia are a good team, they were playing at home and the result just highlights for me how hard it is to go away and win in this group," added McCarthy, who confirmed that he will not call up any more players to his squad for tomorrow's friendly at home to Bulgaria, where he has promised to make changes.

One of the players in the running to start the game is John Egan, who is hoping his baptism of fire in the Premier League will further equip him for international football.

The 26-year-old Sheffield United defender has made an impressive start to life in the top flight, but finds the dependable pairing of Shane Duffy and Richard Keogh standing in his way as he attempts to force his way into McCarthy's plans.

However, he could get his chance tomorrow night and is hopeful his exposure to life among English football's aristocrats will stand him in good stead.

Egan said: "You're playing against top teams every week, so you're being asked different questions and coming up against the best strikers.

"It can only benefit me and make me a better player. I'm just looking to keep improving and keep doing what I'm doing every week over there and keep doing well."

Egan's career has taken him from his release by Sunderland, where he suffered a serious injury during a loan spell at Bradford, back to the top flight via Gillingham and Brentford.

He was part of the Blades side which secured an unlikely promotion from the Sky Bet Championship at the end of last season and which has made light of the step up to the big time despite the added rigours that has brought.

Egan said: "I suppose the Championship is really physically demanding, playing every Saturday and Tuesday. I think the Premier League is more mentally demanding.

"You come up against players - you give them one chance, they're going to take it. Especially in my position, you're going to have to be focused for every second of the game, because as soon as you allow a player of that calibre in on goal, it's going to be a goal.

"Personally I feel like my performances have been good. I've really enjoyed the step up. I'm trying to embrace it and really have a good few games and good season now and show that I belong."

Rep of Ireland

Bulgaria

International friendly:

Aviva Stadium, Tomorrow, 7.45pm

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