5 THINGS WE LEARNED
1. We have the Nations League to thank for the lack of international friendly games and there was no friendly edge to this game. That much was clear early on when the Danes were annoyed at Jeff Hendrick’s decision to play on and try to score after Denmark had stopped play to allow treatment for Harry Arter. Soon after, Arter earned a yellow card for a high and foolish challenge on Martin Braithwaite, and tackles did fly in. That doesn’t guarantee quality, though, as this was, in the main, a turgid affair best forgotten about.
2. Ireland’s failure to keep possession and pass the ball remains in place, no matter the change in personnel. The lack of passing moves from midfield has been a worry for a long time and was present again at home to Denmark last night. A set-piece up to Shane Duffy or an opportunity from a throw-in is still the most likely source of a goal, but until Robbie Brady is fit again, Irish deliveries from free kicks will remain poor.
3. Denmark are a lesser side when they don’t have Christian Eriksen in the team and men like Pione Sisto (best player on the park) and Thomas Delaney are a step above the talent in the Irish side. The Danes had far more chances to score than Ireland but Denmark are beatable without Eriksen, and this 0-0 draw was a case of points dropped as the Danes will be stronger in the return fixture next month.
4. Midfield is still a minefield for Ireland and Martin O’Neill is still looking for his perfect formation there. Harry Arter saved Ireland’s skin with his goal-line clearance to deny Simon Kjaer but he struggled with his holding midfield role, Cyrus Christie looked lost for spells, Jeff Hendrick didn’t impact the game in the way he’d have hoped and the craft of someone like Shaun Williams was left on the bench.
5. Callum Robinson looks like he is ready to start at this level. The Preston player added some real zest to the Ireland side when he came on for Harry Arter on 65 minutes and he played a part in creating Ireland’s best chance – Christie’s shot – on 72 minutes. If Shane Long is not able to start at home to Wales on Tuesday, a Preston double act of Robinson and Sean Maguire would offer Ireland hope of goals.