O’Neill under pressure? Talking points ahead of Republic of Ireland’s clash with Denmark
Ireland have lost their last two competitive games heavily.
Martin O’Neill sends his Republic of Ireland team into battle with Denmark on Saturday evening hoping to kick-start their Nations League campaign.
A 4-1 defeat in Wales last month, coupled with Denmark’s 5-1 victory in Dublin last November in their previous competitive fixture, have left O’Neill fielding uncomfortable questions about his future.
Here, Press Association Sport takes a look of some of the talking points surrounding the game.
A big week for O’Neill?
The Republic boss was bullish when asked about his own future after his squad had convened in Dublin on Monday, rightly citing his record in taking the nation to the Euro 2016 finals and only missing out on a trip to this summer’s World Cup in the play-offs. However, the fact remains that Ireland’s last two competitive games have resulted in a 5-1 home defeat by Denmark and a 4-1 reverse at the hands of Wales in Cardiff, and any repeat against the same opposition over the next few days would significantly weaken the manager’s hand.
Life without Eriksen
No Ireland fan will need reminding how important Christian Eriksen is to Denmark having seen him plunder a hat-trick in that 5-1 demolition job when the sides met at the Aviva Stadium in November last year. The Tottenham schemer’s injury has robbed manager Age Hareide of arguably his most creative player and Danish eyes will focus on how he manages to plug a sizeable gap in his arsenal.
Welcome back, Harry?
Harry Arter’s decision to make himself unavailable for his country last month after a summer row with assistant manager Roy Keane sparked days of media coverage which drew attention away from the Republic’s Nations League encounter with Wales and friendly trip to Poland. The two men have now resolved their differences and Arter will hope to complete his rehabilitation by pulling on the green shirt and allowing his football to do the talking once again.
Going for goals
Goals have been in short supply for Ireland in recent times, with O’Neill still desperately trying to plug the gap left by Robbie Keane. His team has managed just nine goals in its last 11 matches – and four of them have come from Daryl Murphy, who has since retired from international football, and Graham Burke and Alan Judge, who are not in the current squad. Shane Long has not scored an international goal since October 2016, while Aiden O’Brien opened his account on debut in Poland last month.