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Saturday 14 December 2019

Born-again Whelan wants to go out on a high

LAST GO: Glenn Whelan. Pic: Sportsfile
LAST GO: Glenn Whelan. Pic: Sportsfile

Glenn Whelan admits that Euro 2020 will be his last hurrah in the Ireland shirt.

And the pain of the heavy defeat to Denmark which denied him, and the team, a place at the 2018 World Cup finals is a driving forcer behind the side as they prepare to face the Danes, again, tonight.

Whelan was a frustrated spectator, left on the bench all night, when Ireland lost 5-1 at home to Denmark two years ago so his chance of a World Cup was gone, but now he sees a chance to finish off his international career in style, at the European Championship finals,

"With the young lads we have coming through and the talent that we have, this is the be-all and end-all for me," says Whelan, rescued by Mick McCarthy from the retirement home where he'd been dumped by Martin O'Neill.

"Please God, if I can qualify and go out on a high note in the summer that will be great for me.

"You all know the last couple of years were a bit tricky but for me it's about dusting myself down and enjoying myself, when things go well it's great, but it's about qualifying and that's what I want."

Qualification will happen if Ireland beat Denmark tonight, and while revenge is not a word Whelan wants to use, it's a place for him to begin, Whelan guaranteed a place in the starting XI tonight.

"The disappointment of that feeling of going away and getting a decent result away from home and to go 1-0 up and think we have a right chance, and then to fall apart the way we did, everyone was really disappointed," says Whelan.

"It was gut-wrenching in that dressing room afterwards. There was quite a lot of us involved that night and if we can use that to our advantage tonight, we know what it's like to lose a game of such magnitude.

"We know it's in our hands and that if we win a game we've qualified. We need to use that," he added.

"You talk about revenge but no one knows until tonight. You can talk as much as you want, you can work on tactics, I am speaking here saying all the right things but you have to go out and perform and put a good shift in.

"If we have more players who are better than Denmark then please God we get the right result."

Whelan was forced to sit out the 5-1 loss as Martin O'Neill started with Harry Arter and David Meyler as a two-man midfield unit in front of the back four, both Arter and Meyler taken off at half time as Christian Eriksen roamed free and easy and picked off a shapeless Irish side.

Whelan says "if needs be" he'll try to shackle Eriksen. "We got a decent result in this group, 1-1 out there and I think I kept him pretty quiet.

"It's not just him because if you shackle him they are going to have Poulsen or somebody else."

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