It will come as no surprise to anyone to learn that Seamus Coleman doesn’t expect to be swapping Friday’s scrap in the Parken for a stroll in the park tonight.
As far as the captain is concerned, Ireland will go into this evening’s game against Gibraltar with precisely the same attitude with which they approached the match against Denmark.
“You have to stay professional as we have a job to do,” he says. “Our approach is not going to change. We’re not thinking ‘it’s Gibraltar and we should be winning 3-0, 4-0 or 5-0’. We won’t be taking them for granted. We know what they are about. From the last time we played them a few years ago, they have improved so much, they know their roles really well. They have some good players on the ball and they are dangerous from set pieces and throw-ins.
“I think everybody expected us to win by more (in Gibraltar), but ask any of the players: that game was crazy, the wind was all over the place. It was their first game at home as well, which made it more difficult. They were right up for it. So it was a tough night and it was a great save from Daz (Darren Randolph) to keep us in it. But we got out of there with three points and we’ve got to prepare the same again.
”Supporters can presume that this might be an easy game or whatever, but as players you can never do that because everyone knows football is a crazy game and you don’t want to be the team that gets beat. That’s why we have to stay professional. And that won’t be in doubt with the group of lads we have.”
But, more than being, perish the thought, ‘the team that gets beat’ or even, for that matter, the team that wins, Coleman is hoping that Mick McCarthy’s Ireland can put on a bit of a performance tonight.
“That’s what we’ve been trying to do since the manager has come in. Against Georgia we pressed them and tried to win the ball back as high up the pitch as we could, and then play from there. At times we did that very well. Against Denmark, especially when we were 1-0 down, we played some really good football, so we are capable of it.
“I think it’s the best way to play, to try and win the ball back as high up the pitch as possible against good teams. There are going to be times where you are going to be picked off - the likes of Eriksen playing balls around the corner. But me, being a defender, if we are trying to come out from the back and teams are pressing, it’s difficult. So, that’s not what you want. So if we can win the ball back high up and play from there, then great.”
It suits the skipper’s attacking inclinations too.
“I’m feeling good again,” he says. “I’m getting back to where I want to be at. Bombing up and down the pitch is my bread and butter and I’d licence to do that and I enjoyed it. Tonight we are playing at home in front of our fans, so the result is the most important thing, but of course we want to get the ball down and put on a performance.”