Meyler in no doubt ROI can qual­ify...

Evening Times - - SPORT - By DAVID BAR­CLAY By GRAEME McGARRY

DAVID MEYLER is con­vinced the Repub­lic of Ire­land will be head­ing for the World Cup fi­nals in Rus­sia.

Ire­land take on Den­mark tonight hav­ing emerged from the first leg of their play-off in Copen­hagen with a 0-0 draw and know­ing their dreams will live or die on what hap­pens back at the Aviva Sta­dium.

Martin O’Neill’s men have pro­duced their best when they have needed it most dur­ing the man­ager’s four-year reign to date, beat­ing Ger­many, Italy and just last month, Wales when the al­ter­na­tive was sim­ply not an op­tion, and Meyler is ex­pect­ing more of the same this time around.

The Hull mid­fielder said: “This is stuff you dream of as a kid. Ev­ery­body wants to play at a World Cup and we are 90 min­utes away from it.

“If you look back at when we started the cam­paign with Ser­bia away, this is where we wanted to be, this is the goal.

“The Eu­ros was a great ex­pe­ri­ence and we can draw on that, but we need to just go and per­form to­mor­row night and I be­lieve fully that we’ll be go­ing to Rus­sia.”

SCOT­LAND un­der-21 coach Scot Gem­mill says that his young­sters must stand up to the phys­i­cal na­ture of in­ter­na­tional foot­ball, af­ter com­ing through a bruis­ing en­counter with Latvia at McDiarmid Park last Fri­day night.

There were some hefty chal­lenges put in on Scot­land play­ers dur­ing the draw in Perth, the worst of which com­ing from In­gars Stuglis, whose wild lunge on Mother­well’s Chris Cad­den earned him a straight red card.

Cad­den showed re­mark­able re­straint in his re­ac­tion to a tackle that could have se­ri­ously in­jured him, and Gem­mill ad­mits he has told his young Scots that they will have to keep their heads when op­po­si­tion teams are putting the boot in.

“Of course [Chris was lucky],” said Gem­mill. “There were a few tack­les in the game to be hon­est. There was one off the ball on Oliver [McBurnie] and the one on Scott Wright.

“I think our play­ers have to be ready not to re­act to that. It hap­pened in Latvia away from home and we man­aged to score from when Lewis Mor­gan was tack­led heav­ily in the cor­ner.

“The play­ers have to learn not to re­act to it be­cause the ref­er­ees won’t tol­er­ate a re­ac­tion.

“You can’t leg­is­late for it. You never know when the ref­eree isn’t go­ing to pro­tect you. UEFA has changed but of course in any game any­thing can hap­pen.”

Gem­mill is sure the young Scots will be in for more of the same rough treat­ment when they come up against Ukraine at McDiarmid Park tonight, as they look to leapfrog The Nether­lands back into sec­ond place in their Euro­pean Cham­pi­onship qual­i­fi­ca­tion group.

“They are a very phys­i­cal team, very quick team and I’m sure it will be that kind of game,” he said. “They’ll come in with a real point to prove.

“If they saw our first-half per­for­mance from Fri­day night – I’m sure they will have – then they’ll be com­ing to try to force us into those ar­eas.

“We didn’t keep the ball well enough and we re­ally need to play well to­mor­row. There is no doubt that Ukraine will put us un­der that pres­sure. Every time the play­ers play it is a hur­dle for them to get over and show they can play at this level.”

One thing Gem­mill in­sists doesn’t con­cern him is his side’s in­abil­ity to con­vert their dom­i­na­tion of Fri­day night’s fix­ture against the Lat­vians into goals, with nu­mer­ous pre­sentable chances squan­dered be­fore Ryan Hardie’s late penalty sal­vaged a point.

He thinks his side can learn from the ex­pe­ri­ence, but wants them to take just as much out of the way the vis­i­tors de­fended as they do from their profli­gacy.

HE SAID: “It is worked upon in train­ing, that edge to score goal, but I value keep­ing the ball out of our net just as much.

“But when you cre­ate as many chances then of course the fin­ger can be pointed.

“Games like that can hap­pen so give credit to Latvia. They de­fended their goal like their life de­pended on it.”

Scot­land Un­der-21s were in for some rough treat­ment in the away leg in Latvia, with Aberdeen’s Scott Wright laid out dur­ing the match

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