Thursday 14 December 2017

Jeff Hendrick: We can't fear the Germans and we must not be walked over

Ireland v Germany: 1 day to go

Republic of Ireland's Jeff Hendrick during a press briefing
Republic of Ireland's Jeff Hendrick during a press briefing
Eunan O'Kane and John O'Shea

THE sight of Germany and their talented squad, weighed down by all those World Cup and Champions League medals, arriving in Dublin with a swagger today brings to mind the tagline from that 1980s movie, The Fly. Be afraid, be very afraid.

Many of this German squad were involved for the most recent visits by the Mannschaft when they came to Ireland and won 6-1 (the senior team, against Trapattoni's Ireland side) and 4-0 (their U21s two years ago), so they are aware that Ireland is not exactly a teeming cauldron of hate.

With that good record against Ireland, the form of their players and the injury-hit nature of the Ireland squad, tomorrow night could be a difficult evening.

But for Jeff Hendrick, certain to start in the Irish midfield, Ireland have to leave their fear behind when they face up to this German side.

"I know what they are like - they are great players - but I can't be afraid of them. You fear them and give them too much respect, and they will walk all over you," says Hendrick.

"I don't think you can show them too much respect. Obviously they are world champions, but we take confidence out of the draw away, and other teams have done well against them in the group.

"Poland beat them early in the group, teams have scored against them - they are not unbeatable. At the end of the day they are only human. They are good players but we have got to make sure we play our game, create chances and if we create chances we stick one or two of them away," added the Dubliner, likely to be one of three Derby County players in the Ireland starting XI tomorrow, alongside fellow Rams Richard Keogh and Cyrus Christie

Eunan O'Kane and John O'Shea

Eunan O'Kane and John O'Shea

Apart from sharing a club, the trio also have something in common, in that they have never played club football in the top flight.

So Hendrick is aware that the Championship-based players in the Irish squad have to raise their game tomorrow. "Obviously you have got to be on your game, you have got to work hard. They are just the first things," he says.

"If you get the ball you can't be afraid to try things against them because you probably won't get it that often.

"They are a possession team. You see when they play other teams they have 70 percent possession. You know they are going to have a lot of the ball and you are going to be working hard. You have got to make sure you keep it and try to do something good when you have it. "It's different, obviously," he adds. "The Championship is just everything in your face, no time. Then in international football you get a bit more time in your own half but you have got to be clever in the other half because if you lose the ball they can break.

"International teams have got a lot of great players who can transition quickly and you can get punished."

Hendrick is still a rookie in terms of caps (he has 15 at senior level, even though he seems unaware of that as Hendrick yesterday told reporters that he was yet to establish himself in the side as "I think I've only about 12 caps"). But he also knows what's needed tomorrow.

"We have got to make sure we are nice and tight, stay in the game and if we need to go get a goal, we do that," says the Coolock lad. "That's the main thing - make sure we keep it tight at the start. You don't want to go a goal down early against them when they keep so much possession. We have to make sure we are ready."

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