GLENN WHELAN says he's eager for a midfield battle with Luka Modric (picture) in Poznan tomorrow, because he's already got the better of the Croatian star at club level, writes Aidan Fitzmaurice.
The Dubliner enjoyed his tussles with some Croats last season as he played in both legs as Stoke City beat Hajduk Split 2-0 on aggregate in the Europa League, while Whelan and pals overcame Modric's Spurs side at the Britannia Stadium in December.
"I've done okay," said a modest Whelan when asked about his encounters with Modric. "We beat them at our place this year and they scored a last-minute equaliser at their place.
"I did okay against him. It's not just about me and him. It's the team. Against Stoke in the last few years, we've done really well. There was talk of Modric going for £30-40million last summer and this summer. He's done very, very well. But I'll put myself against him and try to match him.
"He's one of them that if you give him time and space he'll hurt you. If you don't get tight and he can see a pass, he'll pick that pass out. It's goal-scoring opportunities with the passes he can see. When we played them in a friendly, he played a different role to the way he played for Spurs so it's something we'll have to deal with.
"But it's not just Modric, Croatia have got other players as well. It's something for me," added Whelan.