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Thursday 24 August 2017

'We have to make our own Marc'

Wilson expects Irish class to tell against minnows

Marc WIlson
Marc WIlson

IN THE week-long build-up to today's Euro 2016 qualifier in Dublin, not once has a player from the opposing side been mentioned by name by anyone in the Ireland camp.

We can assume that things will be a bit different before the next test after this one, when names like Muller, Ozil, Khedira and Podolski will rip around the Irish set-up.

Even yesterday when he faced the media for his pre-match press conference, Martin O'Neill didn't refer to a single Gibraltarian by name, mentioning at one stage "the little lad on left" who caused a moment of danger for Poland in their meeting last month.

And it's clear that, while later tests in the group will be all about smothering the threat of Muller or Lewandowski, for Ireland the approach this week is simple: do our job properly and we'll have no worries.

"We know it's going to be a tough game for us so it's important to go out there with the right attitude. They will get a lot of men behind the ball so if we can get that goal earlier in the game it will settle us. But we know it's going to be a difficult game and we have to have the right attitude," says Marc Wilson, who is certain to start at Lansdowne Road tonight and win his 19th senior cap.

"It's another game and it will be tough so we have to set out the way we always do, with the right attitude and the right frame of mind and get the three points."

record

One match from our history has cropped up in conversation this week as more than one supporter has wondered if Ireland can do enough tonight to break the record for most goal scored in an international, that 8-0 win at home to Malta in 1983.

With Gibraltar having conceded seven at home - albeit in what really was a neutral venue, Portugal - in their last match, the option is there for a notoriously goal-shy Ireland side to rack up some scores.

But another match has also popped into the psyche, that unconvincing 4-1 win away to the Faroe Islands in the last campaign.

It's been remarked this week that Martin O'Neill got his players to watch the first half of the Gibraltar-Poland game and then pressed the pause button as he felt that the tight first half in that game - Poland were only 1-0 up at the break - would potentially worry them while the second half, where Gibraltar collapsed as the Poles scored six more - could lull them into a false sense of security.

Wilson played a key role in that win in Torshavn, scoring his one and only international goal to put Ireland 1-0 up just after the break.

"It's going to be a pretty similar game. Obviously the conditions will be different, compared to the pitch out in the Faroes. It's a game where if we are 100% tuned in and focused I think we can get three points from it, take a positive result from it into the Germany game," Wilson says.

"But we can take nothing for granted. It's going to be a difficult game and we have to give it our best.

"We can't let ourselves get carried away. We have watched Gibraltar, particularly the first half of the Poland game and they do get a lot of men behind the ball, they are nice and compact and Poland found it difficult to break them down, they had a long shot where they scored the first goal.

"But from what we have seen Gibraltar are a tight, solid, compact unit and that first goal will be key."

big matches

The big matches in this group are easy to pick out: the game in Parkhead, the trip to Warsaw, Scotland's visit to Dublin, Germany coming here as world champions. So this one tonight, at home to the minnows at 5pm on an autumn Saturday, is not a big match, but Wilson says the players will still be focused.

"As a player you want to go out and win every single game you play in. I don't know any player who goes out on a Saturday, or with the international team, and wants to lose a game of football. All the lads are fully focused and want to win the game," he stated.

Wilson has established himself at centre half in recent times, having waited a long time to burrow his way into the national team on a regular basis - while Wilson is the same age as Shane Long, as Long closes in on the 50-cap mark Wilson is only on 18 caps.

But the Wilson/O'Shea axis may be broken up today as O'Neill may need one of them to play at right back in place of the injured Seamus Coleman.

"I played at right back before, maybe three seasons ago and I feel pretty comfortable playing in either position," says Wilson, now firmly bedded in with the national team. "I am happy to be part of the squad, we are building a good team now for the future and I am happy to be part of it."

Wilson delivered that goal in the Faroe Islands but it was Aiden McGeady who netted the crucial strikes away to Georgia last month and Wilson admits to being a big fan of the Everton man.

"It was brilliant for our confidence, the Georgia match was a tough game, especially going away from home," Wilson added.

"You see Aiden in training every day and he can be a magician, or he can drive you mad. But he is a great lad, he has great ability and it so happened on the night that he showed great ability to get a goal for us."

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