World Cup: James McClean 'confident' Ireland can progress against Danes

BRING THEM ON! James McClean celebrates scoring the winning goal in the Group D clash against Wales at the Cardiff City Stadium.
BRING THEM ON! James McClean celebrates scoring the winning goal in the Group D clash against Wales at the Cardiff City Stadium.

JAMES McCLEAN insists he holds no fears about meeting Denmark for a place in the 2018 World Cup Finals in Russia next summer and believes Republic of Ireland are prepared to 'meet the challenge head on!'

Martin O'Neill's team will be away in the first leg, which will be played on Saturday, November 11th, and home for the second leg, which will be played on Tuesday, November 14th in Aviva Stadium.

West Brom winger McClean was hailed the hero as he kept Ireland's World Cup dreams alive with the 57th minute winning goal in the Group D qualifiers decider against Wales in the Cardiff City Stadium last week in a game where fellow Derry man, Shane Duffy produced a 'man of the match' display.

McClean has been one of O'Neill's stand-out performers in the qualifying stages with four goals, having scored twice in Chisinau to see off Moldova a year ago and then hit the winner against Austria in Vienna last November.

After finishing as runners-up in Group D, Ireland were unseeded going into the draw in Zurich. They could have been paired with either Croatia, Denmark, Italy or Switzerland.

And while McClean was delighted to get drawn away from home first, he believes O'Neill's troops feared no one after coming through a tough qualifying group involving Serbia and Wales.

"It's was always going to be a tough draw no matter who we got but it's probably the best draw we could've hoped for," said McClean.

"It's not going to be easy, far from it, but although it's going to be two tough games I think we're confident in ourselves that we can progress and especially after coming through the qualifying group we did. So we'll be ready and we will meet the challenge head on!"

Ireland have come up against Denmark 13 times overall - winning five, drawing five, losing three - with their last meeting coming in a 4-0 friendly win in 2007.

O'Neill, who successfully guided Ireland to Euro 2016 after overcoming Bosnia & Herzegovina in a two-legged play-off, is excited to begin preparations for the two games.

Republic of Ireland Manager Martin O'Neill and Assistant Manager Roy Keane, during the 2018 FIFA World Cup European Play-off Draw at the Home of FIFA in Zurich, Switzerland.

Republic of Ireland Manager Martin O'Neill and Assistant Manager Roy Keane, during the 2018 FIFA World Cup European Play-off Draw at the Home of FIFA in Zurich, Switzerland.

"We're delighted to have been drawn away from home first, so we will try to get some sort of advantage or certainly negate Denmark's advantages before we get to Dublin," said O'Neill.

“Naturally as an unseeded team the draw was going to be difficult,” O’Neill said. “I’m delighted to be drawn away from home first. Italy were in the group and I suppose if you were to ask all of the unseeded coaches, none of us would have wanted to play Italy.”

"We have two games in quick succession and the turnover will be very quick, so let's go for it."

Public sale of tickets for the home leg will begin at 11 am on Friday, October 20th, with prices starting at €30 for adults and €20 for kids - excluding booking fees.

Fernando Hierro draws the Republic of Ireland during the 2018 FIFA World Cup European Play-off Draw.

Fernando Hierro draws the Republic of Ireland during the 2018 FIFA World Cup European Play-off Draw.