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Dublin: 10 °C Friday 21 February, 2020

'He's a world-class player and deserves all the credit he gets' - Arter on Denmark's danger man

The midfielder says Ireland must stop Christian Eriksen, but warned that they can’t concentrate on one player.

Arter and Eriksen.
Arter and Eriksen.
Image: Ryan Byrne/INPHO & NurPhoto/SIPA USA/PA Images

HARRY ARTER GOT the big performance he craved in an Ireland jersey last month.

The Bournemouth midfielder’s international career has been stop-start over the past two-and-a-half years, and he admits being surprised to be named in the starting line-up for the recent winner-takes-all World Cup qualifier away to Wales.

It proved to be one of those special nights for Irish football, and Arter contributed by producing a tenacious display — capping off his 10th appearance with an exquisite step-over for James McClean’s winning goal.

“I’d probably have to say so, purely for the fact that it meant so much to both countries,” the 27-year-old replied, when asked today if the Cardiff victory was the crucial game he had been longing for.

So to play a part and to be trusted in such a big game was a big step for me, international-wise, and to be involved in that team has been the best part of the Ireland set-up.”

Arter looked set to feature at Euro 2016 last summer but picked up a thigh injury in the pre-tournament training camp in Cork. That setback has made him even hungrier to reach the upcoming finals in Russia.

“To play at the Euros or in the World Cup would be special for me, especially for this country as well,” he explains.

“Probably at the initial time, I wasn’t fussed about missing out but as time goes on, it’s been more of a disappointment and it makes going to the World Cup something that I want to do even more.”

Harry Arter Arter was in front of the cameras today. Source: Oisin Keniry/INPHO

With David Meyler suspended for Saturday’s play-off first leg against Denmark and Jeff Hendrick an injury doubt, Martin O’Neill’s midfield options may be limited somewhat and Arter is a shoe-in to start.

And he could very well be tasked with keeping a close eye on Denmark’s talisman Christian Eriksen — a player he has faced on a number of occasions in the Premier League.

“I don’t think you can focus on just one player,” he says. “He is an unbelievable player — a world-class player — he deserves all the credit he gets in the Premier League and international-wise.

“We’re going to have to stop him from trying to do what he does, but it is important not to just concentrate on him. To concentrate on ourselves is probably the most important thing and then try to take care of them.”

Arter has played in a number of systems for club and country but believes a trio in the centre of the park often works best.

“Probably a three if I’m being completely honest,” he replied, when asked for his preferred formation. “The way football is nowadays, it’s quite rare that teams have a two in midfield. You look at all the big clubs in the world and they rarely go with two.

The protection you have when there’s three is nicer for midfielders. Whatever the manager thinks is best for that game, I’m more than happy to play any part. You have to adapt and perform the best you can.”

Ireland travel to Copenhagen tomorrow afternoon for the first leg before returning to Dublin ahead of Tuesday’s return tie. O’Neill and a couple of the players have said publicly that they feel it’s an advantage, and Arter would tend to agree.

“I didn’t think that initially but when I thought about it logically, without a shadow of a doubt [playing the first leg away is better],” was his response.

“You feel you can overturn anything when you’re at home with momentum from the crowd and the buzz around the place, which will be brilliant. So it’s nice to be at home for the second leg.”

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Ben Blake

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