Peter: I fear we might take it lightly

Daily Mirror (Northern Ireland) - - SPORT - BY JOHN FAL­LON

PETER SCHMEICHEL fears his na­tive Den­mark could un­der­es­ti­mate Ire­land to­mor­row be­cause some of Martin O’neill’s side play in the Cham­pi­onship.

Three of Ire­land’s pre­dicted start­ing line-up – Mid­dles­brough pair Dar­ren Ran­dolph and Cyrus Christie along with Glenn Whe­lan of As­ton Villa – op­er­ate in English foot­ball’s se­cond tier.

And while Den­mark could se­lect two home-based FC Copen­hagen play­ers in their side, the former Den­mark goal­keeper is con­cerned snob­bery might af­flict his na­tion on home soil.

“My worry is some of the Dan­ish play­ers don’t know how good the Cham­pi­onship is,” said Schmeichel, whose son Kasper, will play in goal.

“There are a lot of Cham­pi­onship play­ers in the Ire­land team and our play­ers could go out there think­ing

‘sure, they only play in the se­cond tier of English foot­ball’.”

The former Manch­ester United stop­per hopes Dan­ish boss Age Hareide, inset, and the English-based play­ers rid the dress­ing-room of any com­pla­cency.

“They have got to be re­minded that the English Cham­pi­onship is the fifth rich­est league in the world!” he as­serted.

“I hope they don’t think that way. There’s a lot of English­based play­ers in our team like Kasper, Chris­tian Erik­sen, An­dreas Chris­tensen from Chelsea and Hud­der­s­field Town pair Jonas Lossl and Mathias Jor­gensen, so hope­fully they get the mes­sage across.”

Once Den­mark re­spect Ire­land’s strengths and deal with them ac­cord­ingly, then he reck­ons they are ca­pa­ble of beat­ing Ire­land over two legs.

That op­ti­mism stems from the 4-0 thump­ing they gave Poland in the cam­paign but is tem­pered by the fact they must travel to

Dublin for the se­cond leg.

For the Great Danes to pre­vail, Schmeichel feels trou­bled ge­nius Nick­las Bendtner should play a role in at­tack.

“Nick­las had a great sea­son in Nor­way, win­ning Player of the Year and the ti­tle with Rosen­borg,” he said.

“Be­fore, de­spite not do­ing great at club level, he did fan­tas­ti­cally well for Den­mark. In fact he’s done un­be­liev­ably well for Den­mark.

“I re­mem­ber do­ing pun­ditry for Den­mark games where we dis­cussed be­fore­hand “Why is he play­ing Nick­las Bendtner? He hasn’t played for four weeks and is a big risk. Then he scores twice and we’re red-faced.

“The weird thing is we don’t re­ally think he’s had a ca­reer in top foot­ball yet. We think that is still to come but Nick­las scores goals for his coun­try.”

Schmeichel re­tired from the na­tional team 16 years ago but in­sists his fam­ily at­tach­ment makes these pair of games just as im­por­tant as his play­ing days.

“It feels like I am play­ing the game as well be­cause my son is in­volved,” he said.

“I’m on edge about it. If he wasn’t play­ing, I would have sat here say­ing Den­mark, look­ing at it, they have better play­ers, they are the favourites and they would do this and that.

“How­ever, be­cause I am emo­tion­ally in­volved in this game, be­cause it would re­ally mean so much more to me be­cause my son is there, it’s not only my na­tional pride at stake.

“I have all the same emo­tions that I would have as a player. I am a lit­tle bit too in­volved, I think!”

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