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Tuesday 22 May 2018

Chelsea star Christiansen aims to give Ireland the Blues

Chelsea’s Danish international Andreas Christensen (r) Photo: Getty
Chelsea’s Danish international Andreas Christensen (r) Photo: Getty

Chelsea man Andreas Christensen is hoping to bring his new-found success at club level onto the international stage when Denmark face up to Ireland in the World Cup play-off.

Now 21, defender Christensen has been at Stamford Bridge since he was 16, but after a long time in the shadows, and a spell on loan in Germany, he is reaping the rewards, with four starts in the Premier League this season and also appearances in the Champions League.

He's not even guaranteed a start in the Danish side to face Ireland in Copenhagen on Saturday, Christensen struggling to break into a tough defence, but he is aware of the importance of these games, away from the intense scrutiny of a Chelsea side suffering some mid-season stutters.

"You play in a lot of games but I think these may be the biggest, because it is for the country and not for the club," says the former Brondby player, aware that he faces a battle to get into the side.

"It's a great honour to be back here and be with the national team.

Nicklas Bendtner Photo: Getty
Nicklas Bendtner Photo: Getty

"I think if you ask any player if they want to start, there is only one answer. We are really selfish, when it comes down to it.

"I really want to play, but the most important thing is that Denmark goes on and we come to a final round."

Christensen goes into the play-off clashes against Ireland with the praise of a Chelsea legend, Pat Nevin, ringing in his ears.

"A more assured confident and mature performance you will rarely see from a 21-year-old defender," said Nevin in the wake of last Sunday's huge Premier League win over Manchester United at Stamford Bridge.

Nevin believes Christiansen - along with N'Golo Kante and Alvaro Morata - can emulate the success of three Chelsea legends Didier Drogba, Frank Lampard and John Terry - the spine that delivered Chelsea their most successful time in the club's history.

The Scot said: "At Stamford Bridge we know the importance of a good core to a team; Terry, Lampard and Drogba were not too bad for that, were they?

"It is not a case of comparing those three at the weekend with the aforementioned club legends, that would be grossly unfair, but in that Alvaro is 25, N'Golo is 26, both coming into their primes, and Andreas at 21 has over a decade at the top in front of him, there is the possibility this could be the start of something special and something very long-term as well."

Another man targeting success with the international side, amid a good spell at club level, is former Arsenal man Nicklas Bendtner, in form with a Rosenborg side about to win the Norwegian league.

Bendtner was on the verge of quitting after a poor spell with Nottingham Forest but he's revived his spirit. "When I came to Rosenborg I had three aims," he says.

"To win the league, play in Europe and get the national team to the World Cup," he says.

"I have no complaints at the moment."

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