Peter: I fear we might take it lightly
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!”