Close Calls

'People will be cursing our luck that Glenn Whelan is coming in but he's done a job for us before'

We looked ahead to the big game in the latest episode of Close Calls.

Glenn Whelan Ryan Byrne / INPHO Glenn Whelan training with Ireland this afternoon in Copenhagen. Ryan Byrne / INPHO / INPHO

IRELAND MANAGER MARTIN O’Neill will need to make at least one change to his team for tomorrow night’s 2018 World Cup play-off first leg against Denmark.

With stand-in captain David Meyler suspended after picking up a yellow card in last month’s crucial win against Wales, there’s a vacancy in Ireland’s midfield from the side that recorded that memorable 1-0 victory in Cardiff.

For the first of two games against the Danes, in which a place at next summer’s World Cup is at stake, Glenn Whelan is expected to be reinstated to the side in Meyler’s absence.

Whelan hasn’t started a game for his country since September’s disappointing 1-1 draw with Georgia in Tbilisi, but the 33-year-old Dubliner has been in good form for Aston Villa in the Championship since making the move from Stoke City in the summer.

“Plenty of people will probably be cursing our luck that Glenn Whelan is coming in but he’s done a job for us before,” said Ben Blake of The42 on the latest episode of Close Calls with eir Sport. “He’s the best we have in that position right now so he’ll almost certainly come in.” / YouTube

Martin O’Neill may also have a dilemma when it comes to who leads from the front. With Shane Long injured, Daryl Murphy started again in Cardiff. Murphy has been in better goalscoring form, but Long — who hasn’t scored in nine months — has played more games during O’Neill’s tenure than any other Ireland player, with the exception of James McClean.

“In the striker’s role then, is it Daryl Murphy? I’d probably say yes. He’s favourite to get it. He played in the last two games, he got the two goals against Moldova, although he didn’t have huge luck in Cardiff,” said Ben Blake.

“But he still put in a shift. Shane Long’s goal drought hasn’t ended yet, he’s still without a goal since February for club or country so I think they’ll most likely go with Murphy.”

For more discussion ahead of tomorrow night’s big game, watch the full episode of Close Calls below… / YouTube

  • To be in with a chance of getting your hands on a pair of tickets, courtesy of Carlsberg, to Tuesday night’s second leg at the Aviva Stadium, comment below with your prediction for tomorrow night’s game in Copenhagen and you could be our lucky winner.

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