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Dublin: 5 °C Wednesday 26 February, 2020

O'Neill admits Danish turmoil could give Wales 'unfair' Nations League advantage

Denmark and Wales, Ireland’s Nations League opponents, are due to face each other on Sunday.

– Paul Dollery reports from Cardiff

MARTIN O’NEILL WILL be monitoring how the dispute between the Danish team and their national association develops over the coming days as the situation looks increasingly likely to have consequences for the Republic of Ireland.

The two parties are currently at loggerheads over commercial rights, to the extent that a team comprised of lower-league and futsal players represented Denmark last night in a 3-0 friendly defeat to Slovakia.

Martin O'Neill Republic of Ireland manager Martin O'Neill. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

The Danish FA is still hoping to resolve the conflict in time to allow the nation’s first-choice squad — which reached the last 16 of the 2018 World Cup — to return in time for their opening game in the Nations League at home to Wales on Sunday. 

If not, the Welsh will face an entirely depleted Danish side. That could be a concern to Ireland in the event that Denmark are at full-strength again when Martin O’Neill’s side face them in Dublin on 13 October and in Aarhus on 19 November.

“If it does develop like that I think there would certainly be a degree of unfairness about it,” O’Neill said. “I think everyone would accept that. If Denmark’s top players aren’t playing [against Wales], it would certainly give a massive advantage to the opposition.

“The situation might get resolved in the next couple of days and perhaps Denmark might be able to play their full-strength side. I don’t know what advanced state they’re in now at the moment, but we really just have to wait and see.”

The Ireland manager added: “If it develops in the direction that it looks as if it’s going, I think Uefa will have to make some sort of statement about it.”

O’Neill has personnel problems of his own ahead of tonight’s Nations League clash with the Welsh. Seven Ireland players have been ruled out due to injury, while two others — Declan Rice and Harry Arter — have made themselves unavailable indefinitely.

“Ideally we’d like Denmark to have their full team out [against Wales] to make the competition as even as possible, but that’s out of our hands,” said Ireland captain Seamus Coleman.

“We’ve got a game here that we have to win and then next month as well. What happens in that game [between Denmark and Wales] is out of our hands.”

Ireland’s return fixture against Wales is scheduled for 16 October in Dublin, three days after the visit of the Danes.

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Paul Dollery

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