Sunday 18 November 2018

Meyler: 'We'll have to take our game to Moldova from the off'

Republic of Ireland midfielder David Meyler
Republic of Ireland midfielder David Meyler

David Meyler is likely to get the nod from Martin O'Neill to lead the Republic of Ireland out for tonight's qualifier at home to Moldova.

And the Hull City man insists that the home side have to show they mean business by showing the visitors who is in control from early on, so they can wrap up three World Cup points and move on to Wales on Monday with the playoffs still in their sights.

Privately, Meyler is probably pleased that Gareth Bale will sit out Monday's game in Cardiff but he keeps up the party line in the camp - wisely - that any thoughts about a Bale-less Wales has to wait until Moldova have been dealt with.

"We've got two important games but we need to focus on tonight, the first game is the most important game," says Meyler, hoping to be captain at international level for the first time.

"We can't be looking at Wales, our preparation is towards Moldova, we need to go and win the game tonight.

"There is no point in looking at Wales because we've a job to do tonight so that is our complete focus so we'll worry about Moldova and then whatever happens, happens."

Ireland have been slow starters in this campaign, most of our (relatively few) goals coming late on in the game but Meyler wants to see Ireland take the initiative.

"It's the same at club level," he says.

"If you start from minute one and you get in their faces, you get on top of them and you are dominant in your passing, you create chances, they'll tend to drop deeper and deeper.

"It's the same in all games of football. If you sit off, give teams hope, then they can build on that and their confidence will grow."

The failure by Ireland to do that, press hard on their opponents from the start and build on the advantage of an unexpectedly early goal, cost the side points away to Georgia last month, though Meyler points out he was not involved that day, absent with injury.

"It's very easy for me to sit here and talk about Georgia when I didn't play. You'll have to talk to someone who played," he says.

"Look, every game is different. People spoke about the Georgia game and the Serbia game but one was home and one was away, it's different circumstances.

"Obviously playing Georgia on Saturday, late at night, then playing home in front of your family and friends and your fans, it's a lot different.

"But yeah, you could say we could probably get on the front-foot more, but that's the case in any game. If you don't win, you can always pick on small things."

Meyler has been a bit-part actor in the drama of World Cup qualification to date, four appearances in the eight games played.

He has filled in at right back for the national team, having already played there (and in central defence) under O'Neill at club level and is ready to do so again.

"The manager knows I'm available wherever he wants me to play, I played right back for him before, at club level, I played centre half for him," added Meyler.

"Wherever he needs me to play, I'll play. He knows that and I'll give it everything I have. Likewise with the rest of the squad, we're all there, we all want to play and we're all focused on tomorrow. It's a big game, we'll make sure we get the three points."

Meyler is in form in terms of goal-scoring this season, a consequence of his role as penalty-taker with Hull City. With Ireland's standard spot-kick men (Robbie Brady and Jon Walters) absent tonight, would he step up, espcially as penalties have won points for Ireland at home before?

"If it came about and I was asked to take a penalty, I'd take a penalty, no problem. But I'd imagine the manager would have a fair idea of who he'd want to take a penalty," he added.

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