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‘We want to win every game’

Wednesday, 10th October, 2018 3:59pm

Five Cork players have been included in Martin O'Neill's squad for the UEFA United Nations fixtures against Denmark and Wales.

John Egan, Alan Browne, David Meyler, Kevin Long and Conor Hourihane have all been named in the 26 man squad who face Denmark first on Saturday evening at the Aviva Stadium before Tuesday's home fixture against Wales.

Southampton striker Shane Long sat out training earlier this week after picking up an ankle injury against Chelsea at the weekend but is expected to be in the mix for the two international fixtures while James McClean has return to the setup, with a protective cast on his arm, after suffering a wrist fracture in Irish training last month.

Speaking to Fai.ie, McClean said he's particularly pleased at the speed of his recovery in the four weeks since. “It was an innocuous challenge. As soon as I fell, I knew straight away because I heard the crack and the hand just flopped so I was holding my hand, literally, coming off the training field and I just knew straight away it was a bad one. I had the surgery straight away and rehab has been grand – I've had four weeks now and I'm back now fully training so I'm just happy to be back.”

Harry Arter is another name to have returned to the squad; he wasn't available for selection for the opening Nation's League game against Wales last month following a fallout with assistant manager Roy Keane, but McClean insists, despite the media coverage of the incident that the mood in the camp is as good as ever.

“The mood’s always been good, obviously there’s reports recently about this and that, but I've been in the squad now six years and the spirit has always been great, the atmosphere has always been great. Everyone gets on with everyone, from what I see there's no issue.”

Ireland lost 4-1 in that opening game against Wales, a result they will need to overturn in at least one of the upcoming fixtures, while the last time Denmark visited the Aviva Stadium they came away with a 5-1 win in the World Cup playoffs.

McClean, however, says that these two games are not about Wales or Denmark, but about the squad proving to themselves that they are good enough to beat the two sides.

“We've got a point to prove to ourselves, no one else. The Denmark game, it was what it was, but there's no revenge mission. We could go out now and beat Denmark 5-1 ourselves but it's not going to make up for that night and what was at stake. But now what's at stake is three points on the board in the UEFA Nations League which is obviously going to be crucial going forward as well in the future so yes, we want to win every game.

“We want to beat Wales, we want to beat Denmark, we want to beat whoever we play so yes, we've got a point to prove to ourselves but that's it.”

Republic of Ireland squad vs Denmark and Wales

Goalkeepers: Darren Randolph (Middlesbrough), Colin Doyle (Hearts), Sean McDermott (Kristiansund BK)

Defenders: Cyrus Christie (Fulham), Matt Doherty (Wolverhampton Wanderers), Shane Duffy (Brighton & Hove Albion), Richard Keogh (Derby County), Ciaran Clark (Newcastle United), Kevin Long (Burnley), John Egan, Enda Stevens (both Sheffield United), Darragh Lenihan, Derrick Williams (both Blackburn Rovers)

Midfielders: Jeff Hendrick (Burnley), Conor Hourihane (Aston Villa), Alan Browne (Preston North End), Shaun Williams (Millwall), David Meyler (Reading), Harry Arter (Cardiff City – on loan from Bournemouth), Callum O’Dowda (Bristol City), James McClean (Stoke City)

Forwards: Shane Long (Southampton), Callum Robinson, Sean Maguire (Preston North End), Aiden O’Brien (Millwall), Scott Hogan (Aston Villa)

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