WORLD CUP PLAYOFF: Ireland’s Shane Duffy relishing pressure of Danish test

Shane Duffy of Republic of Ireland during a Press Conference at FAI National Training Centre, in Abbotstown, Dublin. Photo by E�in Noonan/Sportsfile
Shane Duffy of Republic of Ireland during a Press Conference at FAI National Training Centre, in Abbotstown, Dublin. Photo by E�in Noonan/Sportsfile

SHANE DUFFY is confident Republic of Ireland can keep their World Cup dream alive with a positive result against Denmark in the first leg of the play-off in the Parken Stadium, Copenhagan on Saturday.

The Brighton & Hove Albion defender goes into Saturday’s crunch clash in exceptional form for both club and country and earned himself the man of the match accolade for his outstanding display against Wales in the decisive Group D clash in the Cardiff City Stadium.

He’s relishing being a part of what he regards as the ‘biggest games’ of his career and is desperate to play his part in getting Ireland to a first World Cup since 2002.

And while he’s expecting tough test in front of a ‘noisy’ Danish support, he believes the Irish can keep it tight and keep the play-off in the balance going into the return leg.

“I feel good, feel strong and ready to go now,” said Duffy who has fully recovered from the groin injury sustained against his former club Everton last month.

“For me personally, I’m fully focused on two huge games. It’s a big week.

Every player wants to be involved in this. We have two games to get to a World Cup. The pressure is huge - I love it!

Shane Duffy

“They’re the biggest games of my career. I really can’t wait to try to be involved and play a part. There’s a lot of rewards at stake.”

As top seeds, Denmark go into the two legged tie against the Irish as favourites and will be expecting to come to the Aviva Stadium next Tuesday in the driving seat.

Duffy is under no illusions about how tough a task it will be as he looks to contain Tottenham Hotspur’s Christian Eriksen and co. but he expects both legs to be ‘tight’ affairs.

“I expect it to be noisy (in Denmark) and they’ll believe they can beat us,” he added. “They’re going to be tight games, there’s not going to be a lot of goals. Hopefully we can keep it tight over there and get them back to Dublin where we know the atmosphere will be rocking.

“It’s a huge opportunity for our country to get to the World Cup. We want to go and give everything, do our best and not leave anything behind. It’s a great chance to play at a World Cup.

“They’re a good team and a different team to what they were a couple of campaigns ago and they look strong. We’ll get in and the boss will have all the videos ready of them and we’ll have our meetings and go through all of it.

“It’s been a good campaign. We beat Wales in their back yard. We’ve got to take the confidence from that and kick on.

“Every player wants to be involved in this. We have two games to get to a World Cup. The pressure is huge - I love it!.”

Duffy has formed a superb partnership with fellow Brighton centre half, Lewis Dunk this season as he made his return to Premiership football and they’ve received rave reviews from some top profile pundits including Sky Sports’ Jamie Carragher for their no nonsense defensive displays.

He played a key role in keeping a clean sheet in the 1-0 victory over Swansea at the weekend at the Liberty Stadium and he’s delighted with his current form.

“It was a battle, we knew they were struggling for a little bit of form and confidence, so we used that to our advantage early on, got the goal and battled hard.

“It wasn’t pretty but we got the win and that’s what we’re here for.”

Brighton are now unbeaten in four Premiership matches and the hard fought point in Wales at the weekend lifted them into eighth place in the table.

“It’s a great start for the club, not many expected us to be in the top half after 11 games so it’s credit to everyone involved but there’s still a long way to go.”