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Dublin: -2°C Sunday 11 April 2021

'The manager makes me feel like a better player than I actually am'

Callum O’Dowda is in line to win his 13th senior cap for Ireland in tomorrow night’s game against Denmark.

Callum O'Dowda Callum O'Dowda in possession for Ireland against Poland. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

CALLUM O’DOWDA HAS paid tribute to Martin O’Neill, insisting that he has improved by playing under the Republic of Ireland manager.

Having impressed with his contribution in the 1-1 draw with Poland in last month’s friendly, O’Dowda is expected to win his 13th senior cap in tomorrow night’s Uefa Nations League clash with Denmark at the Aviva Stadium.

“I think it possibly was, yeah. It was a good game from myself,” O’Dowda said, when asked if his performance against the Poles in Wroclaw was his best so far in an Ireland shirt. His cross set up Aiden O’Brien to give Ireland a 53rd-minute lead.

“In the first half I was a bit quiet but in the second half I grew into the game. But I think the team performance as well was really good. We were really positive in that game. Coming off the back of the frustration of the Wales game, it was nice to put in a good performance like that.”

Martin O’Neill has regularly shown faith in O’Dowda since handing him his debut in a pre-Euro 2016 friendly against Belarus. The Bristol City winger expressed his gratitude for the backing he has received from his international boss.

“The manager has been really positive with me ever since I’ve come in. He’s been really good at managing me,” said the 23-year-old, who’ll be hoping to make his fifth consecutive start for Ireland this weekend.

Callum O'Dowda O'Dowda speaking to the press this week. Source: Bryan Keane/INPHO

“He makes me a better player, if I’m being honest, the way he bigs me up to myself. He makes me feel like a better player than I actually am, which I think is what you want from a manager. It’s been really good.”

After a heavy defeat to Wales in Cardiff, Ireland need a positive result and a much-improved display against the Danes in order to get their Nations League campaign up and running.

Inspired by the performances of James McClean in the World Cup qualifiers, O’Dowda is eager to make a similarly vital contribution for Ireland over the coming years.

Seated beside McClean at a press conference in Dublin, O’Dowda said: “I remember saying this a couple of years ago at another press conference — and I’m not just saying this because he’s here — but that is something I want to be doing.

“I want to establish myself and be that kind of player that makes an impact like that. As a boy going into football, those are the things you want to be doing.” 

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Paul Dollery

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