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Dublin: 0°C Thursday 6 May 2021

'This is stuff you dream of as a kid. Everybody wants to play at a World Cup and we're 90 minutes away'

The returning David Meyler is itching to get back into the Ireland team after missing the first leg against Denmark.

Meyler during yesterday's training session.
Meyler during yesterday's training session.
Image: PA Wire/PA Images

DAVID MEYLER HAD to endure a frustrating 90-plus minutes at Copenhagen’s Parken Stadium on Saturday night.

As Ireland ground out a 0-0 draw away to Denmark, the midfielder was forced to watch from the sidelines, “kicking every ball”.

Two yellow cards — both picked up in matches against Wales — resulted in a suspension for the 28-year-old and forced manager Martin O’Neill into one change from the side that claimed victory in Cardiff.

Until recently, Meyler’s place on the bench would not have been questioned by many. However, two exemplary performances as stand-in captain in the most recent qualifiers have seen the Cork native jump to top of the pile as Ireland’s deep-lying midfielder.

“Obviously it’s a lot different when you’re preparing if you’re involved,” Meyler said this afternoon. “If you’re not, you’re sitting there watching the game, you’re heading and kicking every ball and screaming, ‘Run here!’, ‘Close here!’, ‘Tackle there!’.

But the lads did very well the other night and now we need to continue and make sure that we go to Russia.”

Christian Eriksen flittered in and out of the first leg and threatened with a couple of strikes from distance without causing Ireland huge problems.

“He did fine,” says Meyler of the Tottenham man. “Look, they didn’t score, the lads kept them quiet, but it’s got to be the same. It’s not just Christian Eriksen. They are a good team, they have a lot of players playing in the Champions League with top teams across Europe.

“We know exactly what they are capable of. We have watched them all week, we are fully prepared for them and it’s down to us, as the manager said, to get a result and put in a performance.”

United Kingdom: Wales v Republic of Ireland - FIFA 2018 World Cup Qualifier He captained Ireland against Wales and Moldova. Source: SIPA USA/PA Images

A 1-0 win or better tonight would send the Boys in Green through to international football’s elite competition for the first time since 2002.

“This is stuff you dream of as a kid,” Meyler explains. “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 and I believe fully that we’ll be going to Russia.

“I’ve spoken before about having memories of the ’94 World Cup and running around the house in an Ireland top. To be 90 minutes away from qualifying for a World Cup is huge.

“Looking back, you look at the sacrifices I had to go through and to have this opportunity, I don’t want to let it go. We’re going to do everything in our power to qualify.”

Ireland will be hopeful they can take make the most of home advantage. Their two most recent qualifications to major tournaments — against Estonia and Bosnia-Herzegovina — were both sealed at the Aviva Stadium and Meyler feels the Green Army can play their part once again.

“When they are are with us and cheering us on, it gives everyone a huge lift,” he added. “Even when you create a chance.

“They have been crucial for us in the last few years — in previous campaigns and this campaign. We want a big turn out tomorrow night, full numbers.”

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Ben Blake

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