Meyler in no doubt ROI can qualify...
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