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Friday 23 February 2018

'Keane's stamp is on this Irish side' says Schmeichel

Denmark goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel insists his team-mates face tough battle with Ireland in tonight’s World Cup play-off first leg in Copenhagen
Denmark goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel insists his team-mates face tough battle with Ireland in tonight’s World Cup play-off first leg in Copenhagen

His dad and Roy Keane may not be on the best of terms these days, seeing as Ireland's assistant manager said only this week that he would have "f*** all" to say to Peter Schmeichel.

But Kasper Schmeichel, certain to start in goal for Denmark against Ireland tonight, cannot abandon his respect for Keane.

"My memories of Roy Keane are mostly of him holding trophies," he says when asked what Martin O'Neill's sidekick means to him "He was a captain and a leader for Manchester United, he is a typical Irishman, he has a strong character.

"I've played with a lot of Irish players, they are serious in their work but like to have fun, I am sure we will see a little bit of Roy Keane's persona on the pitch (tonight)."

While Schmeichel Senior won the European Championships with Denmark in 1992, the current Leicester City keeper has yet to the taste glory with the national team to match his Premier League medal with the Foxes.

Leicester were not expected to triumph in 2015-16; the Danish side of '92 were also outsiders.

But this week, the Danes are favourites. They know their Shakespeare here, as the town of Helsingor is the setting for Hamlet - a statue of the title character standing outside the Danish team's hotel there, so they understand what "Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown" means.

"When it comes to play-off games, the last one against Sweden we were favourites and we saw how things ended there," says Schmeichel, looking back to the Euro 2016 play-off when Denmark lost out.

"It's hard to call how this will go, two good teams, but we are confident on our own ability.

"From my point of view I have never played in a major tournament so that's something I want to experience, and it's a chance for every player in the squad - we missed out the last few times and it has been bad sitting at home in the summer."

That's the same thought in the head of Christian Eriksen, a key man for the Danes tonight.

"We are every excited going into the game - we don't want to be at home watching on the telly," Eriksen says of the 2018 World Cup.

"It's a bit boring, you have a holiday but your mind is on something else. I have been there twice but I definitely want to go to a third one," added the Spurs man, who played for the Danes at the 2010 World Cup and Euro 2012.

Eriksen will be at the focus of the Danish attack and it could suit him if Ireland's ploy is to man-mark him.

Space

"I have been man-marked a few times before, I don't know if Ireland will do it and I don't mind if they do - it will mean more space for other players if they do, it's Ireland's decision."

But he is clear in his view that only one side plans to play ball tonight.

"I don't think anyone goes into a game frustrated, we go out to do our own thing," he added.

"If you have one team who want to play and one who don't, the game can get dragged out. Nil-nil here is a good result for them, and we want to score.

"I want to go to a World Cup but I think the whole team should be at a World Cup, given the quality we have. It would be a pity to miss out, with my form - I am feeling good and confident, I want to go in and create as much as possible."

Denmark have options in all areas and it's likely that Andreas Christensen, enjoying a good run in the Chelsea side, will have to make do with a place on the bench as Brentford man Andreas Bjelland should start in defence.

Andreas Cornelius, in form in Serie A with Atalanta, is also likely to start.

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