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'I think Shane Long is an incredible striker. We've got to keep an eye on him all the time'

Peter Schmeichel is adamant that Shane Long should start for Ireland against the Danes.

Image: ABACA/PA Images

THE GREAT DANE Peter Schmeichel believes Denmark will need to ‘keep their eye on’ Shane Long if they’re to reach next summer’s World Cup in Russia at Ireland’s expense.

Schmeichel, whose son Kasper will attempt to keep Long and friends at bay in Copenhagen this Saturday, was in Dublin yesterday in his role as Carlsberg ambassador, and shed light on what he believes will be Denmark’s direct approach as well as the disadvantage they face on their own Parken Stadium turf.

There were plenty of Christian Eriken musings too given the Spurs star’s red-hot form, but when the former Manchester United goalkeeper was asked if he feared any player wearing green, it was Long who sprung to mind first and foremost, but not before Schmeichel altered the question’s parameters slightly.

“All of them,” he laughed. “No, in football we never use thew word ‘fear’. Never. ‘Cause if you fear you don’t play.

“You can respect and, you know, you can go out there and take extra care of certain elements of your opponent – like if someone has a long throw-in, they’re difficult to defend against, you’ve got to be [prepared] – but you can never fear.

There are players in the Irish team that we need to be aware of. Shane Long is one of them. I’m not sure if he plays, but I would [play him]. Any time Shane Long is fit I’d play him.

“The thing is, I think he is an incredible striker. I think he’s one we’ve got to keep an eye on all the time. Even when the ball breaks down and comes your way, you’ve got to know exactly where he is.

That’s your first thing: ‘oh, we lost the ball. Where is he?’ So you know he’s there, because he’s clever. He finds the little pockets of space, his finishing is good, he’s sort of one of those – I won’t use the word ‘old-fashioned striker’, because he’s not really, but he’s got so many of the traditional qualities for a striker.

“He’s not like Messi,” Schmeichel continued. “He’s just a really tough player to play against, and he can get goals out of nothing.

“And that’s something – I know this is going to sound cliché-ish – but goals are going to be important in these two games. More important than in normal qualification games, because if Ireland score in Denmark, obviously, that will count as two goals if it’s equal.

“Obviously, if you keep them from scoring, then you have the advantage with Denmark in the second game. And if it goes into extra time it’s an even greater advantage. So you’ve got to be very, very careful with who you play against, and someone like him – he’s one of those who can get a goal from nothing. And those are the most dangerous guys to play against.”

  • As proud Energy Partner to the FAI, SSE Airtricity have given us a pair of tickets to the sold-out Republic of Ireland vs Denmark game to give away. You’ll watch the Boys in Green (hopefully) seal World Cup qualification from your premium level seats after enjoying food and refreshments in the Vavasour Suite before the match. To enter simply email competitions@the42.iewith your score prediction for the away leg and we’ll pick a winner from the correct entries on Sunday morning.

‘I actually think we are the more physical side’: Schmeichel unconcerned by Irish toughness

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