'Win or bust' scenario should suit Ireland insists McCarthy
Mick McCarthy believes that the 'win or bust' aspect of Monday's showdown with Denmark should suit his Ireland side.
The hosts have to take three points from their final qualifying match whereas the Danes only need a point to progress and McCarthy feels that the scenario could plant a seed of doubt in the visitors' minds if the game is alive heading into the final stages.
"Needing a draw...I don't know how you'd go about that one," said McCarthy, who was initially referring to how his side would handle that position. "Would you just sit back and think 'We'll soak it up'. No, not really. Do you go gung-ho and get done?
"We know what we've got to do; we've got to win. There's no other result that's going to count for us. I don't know if them not having to win is a good thing or a bad thing but at some stage we'll have to go toe to toe with them."
McCarthy was speaking in the aftermath of Thursday's win over New Zealand, asserting that it would be daft to draw any comparison between the fixtures. Still, goalscoring displays from Sean Maguire and Callum Robinson have put them in the equation for some kind of involvement in the Danish match.
The tone of the manager's post-match comments would suggest the more experienced duo are further up the pecking order than Spurs teenager Troy Parrott. Lee O'Connor will definitely link up with the U-21 squad and it's not completely out of the question that Parrott's gametime next week will come against Sweden in Tallaght on Tuesday.
Preston forward Maguire started McCarthy's first game in charge against Gibraltar, but failed to seize the opportunity and it's taken him a while to find his stride in green. "He's trained well this week in that position (left of a front three), and he took everything we said in training to him into the game," said McCarthy, before being asked if pitching the 25-year-old in off the bench would worry him.
"I was pleased with him, he was really good and I wouldn't have any fears with him at all."
Sheffield United's Robinson was lively after his introduction and also followed instructions to take up a specific position to dispatch an O'Connor cross. McCarthy feels that both Maguire and Robinson are both more comfortable on the left side, a position that is usually frequented by James McClean, whereas it's possible that his main vacancy is on the right after Robbie Brady gave a display which indicated he was short of match fitness. He was also feeling unwell afterwards.
With Matt Doherty set to start at right full, the balance of the side will be foremost in his thinking. Ireland's approach will not be cavalier. "We couldn't give Denmark some of the space we've given New Zealand, that's for sure," he said.
"We'll have to be really rock solid and tight. We drew 1-1 over there but I've looked at it a number of times and they opened us up a few times.
"But I've no doubt they can be got at. I'm not saying they are unbeatable because they're not but they are a completely different team, a team which has only lost 1 in 31. You've got to respect that.
"I don't think that's the recipe for sitting back and inviting all the pressure. I think it's got to be a very considered press, to make sure we do it properly and do it together, and make sure we all defend well because they are a good side."
After an experimental approach to the New Zealand match, the intensity levels around the camp stepped up once Thursday was out of the way.
"It would have been disrespectful for the lads who were playing against New Zealand, who would feel this was their important game, if I'd started (the week by saying) 'Denmark, Denmark, Denmark' it would have been wrong for them," said the Irish boss.
"So I've not really spoken much about it at all. But I just said in the dressing room, now the preparation starts and we'll be at it for Denmark on Monday."
He feels the scale of the game should generate positive emotions rather than stifling pressure.
"It should be inspiration," said McCarthy, "Walking out and standing in front of that crowd for the national anthem. The lads who have been playing are all pretty well battle-hardened. I think it inspires them. They're a great bunch of lads and they won't be left wanting, that's for sure."