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Sunday 20 August 2017

Wiseman says . . . only fools rush in to judge his Gibraltar trailblazers for Irish clash

THAT 7-0 hammering at home, in their first competitive international, was a lesson in life for the players of Gibraltar.

And the only full-time professional in the Gibraltar ranks, Preston defender Scott Wiseman, feels that tomorrow's test against Ireland in Dublin will be an even bigger challenge for the men from The Rock.

But the away camp have also promised that the minnows have learned some lessons from that tanking by Poland, so their display in tomorrow's game will hinge on whether the away side can put those lessons into practice.

"I feel that Ireland will be stronger opposition than Poland. I expect tomorrow to be a much tougher game than we had against Poland, knowing what Ireland have in their team this is going to be very difficult for us, especially at the Aviva," defender Wiseman told The Herald.

"We know we are up against strong opposition, we know each individual we are up against and we know their strengths and weaknesses - if Ireland have any, that is."

Ireland player Stephen Quinn joked yesterday that Martin O'Neill's squad had only watched the first half of Gibraltar's game with Poland. A deliberate ploy by O'Neill to stop his players from getting lulled into a false sense of security: at the half-way stage Gibraltar were still in the game, only 1-0 down, though they collapsed under the weight of six second-half goals.

"It was tight at half time in the Poland match," says Wiseman.

"We had done well in the first 45 minutes but it went wrong for us in a short space of time. Poland obviously had a different game plan, if they couldn't break us down one way they were going to do it another way and they did that, so we have to learn from the whole experience and put that into practice against Ireland.

"We took a lot of experience from that match, and that's what it's about for us at this stage, getting experience and learning."

Wiseman is the only pro in senior football in the Gibraltar squad so his experience from his time with clubs like Hull, Rotherham, Darlington, Rochdale, Barnsley and current club Preston will be vital.

"The other lads in the squad do ask me for advice as I have been a full-time pro for so long," says the 24-year-old, recalling a time when Damien Delaney was a team-mate at Hull while he remains friends with Dubliner Stephen Dawson from their time at Barnsley.

"It's also a question of what to expect from the fans in Dublin, what the crowd and the noise will be like, it's going to be a fantastic experience for us all, including me.

"There is always a chance that a player can be overawed by the experience and the stage, but that can happen to any player. I have seen very experienced players just freeze on the day.

"It could work in our favour that we are a bit naive in terms of playing in front of big crowds, it's all new to us, the adrenaline will be pumping on the day and we'll use that to our advantage."

International football is a new experience to all in the away camp for this game, their first-ever away competitive game at senior level, but playing here is a big deal for Wiseman, who qualifies via the parentage rule.

"My mum was born out there, I have visited a few times but I haven't as strong a connection as the players who were born or still live there.

"It's not just a career move, my mum still goes back to Gibraltar a fair bit and it means a great deal to her and the rest of the family for me to be playing for Gibraltar."

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