Belfast Telegraph

We'll be fired up by Danish jibes, warns McCarthy

Denmark v Rep of Ireland, Uefa Euro 2020 Qualifying Group D, Telia Parken, Copenhagen, Friday, 7.45pm

War of words: Republic’s Shane Long with Thomas Delaney, who has been critical of the Irish
War of words: Republic’s Shane Long with Thomas Delaney, who has been critical of the Irish
Mick McCarthy

By Damian Spellman

Mick McCarthy has urged the Republic of Ireland to make Denmark pay for their insults as the sides prepare to meet for the fifth time in 18 months.

The Republic run out in Copenhagen on Friday evening having taken maximum points from their opening Euro 2020 qualifiers against Gibraltar and Georgia and are leading Group D as a result.

However, they will expect a much sterner test at the Telia Parken Stadium - where they drew 0-0 in a World Cup play-off showdown in November 2017, prompting Danish midfielder Thomas Delaney to liken the task of trying to break Martin O'Neill's side down to "opening a can of baked beans with your bare hands".

Three days later, the Danes trounced the Republic 5-1 to make it to Russia, although a 0-0 Nations League draw in Dublin in October last year saw Delaney describe the Republic's football as "primitive".

Asked if those barbs had stuck in the minds of his players, McCarthy replied: "It would with me. We are all different, but if somebody mentions it, it might just have a positive effect. If someone insults you, I guess you'd take umbrage at it and want to do something about it, if you could, in any positive way.

"I don't know what they said - what did they say?"

When he was told about Delaney's comments and the suggestion that Ireland's football was agricultural, McCarthy replied with his usual dry humour: "Well, we are from a farming country, aren't we?"

Denmark's 5-1 demolition job at the Aviva Stadium came courtesy largely of a superb hat-trick from Christian Eriksen, who is in line to play against the Republic just six days after suffering the heartache of Tottenham's Champions League final defeat by Liverpool in Madrid last Saturday.

However, McCarthy admits he cannot predict how that will affect the 27-year-old, nor how his players who were involved in the Sky Bet Championship and League One play-off finals - Aston Villa's Glenn Whelan and Conor Hourihane and Charlton's Josh Cullen were winners, while Derby skipper Richard Keogh finished on the losing side - will respond.

He said: "We'll find out, and whether playing in play-off finals, winning them, has a positive effect or losing them has a negative effect.

"I wouldn't see that in Richard Keogh, though, because he's been great coming in training. He's just been himself, a real positive person around the place.

"Whether Eriksen is feeling it because he lost and they didn't play very well as a team, I've no idea. Or whether he turns up and he wants to make amends for it, I haven't got a clue."

The Republic's winning start to the campaign in March was achieved without Southampton striker Shane Long, who had to withdraw from the squad with a groin injury, and he will be missing again after suffering a hamstring problem in training, a major disappointment after ending the season with four goals in seven Premier League games for Southampton.

But McCarthy said: "It's a disappointment - I hope it turns out not to be any sort of a blow, of course because I'm hoping we've got other strikers that can do the business for us.

"But certainly, it's a huge blow for him as well having come in and recovered from injury from the last time and then picking up an injury this time, so I'm really disappointed for him."

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