World Cup play-off: 'This is what you're born to do', says Roy Keane

Roy Keane 'not overly worried' about Jeff Hendrick's fitness for Republic play-off
2018 World Cup play-off first leg: Denmark v Republic of Ireland
Venue: FC Kobenhavn Stadium, Copenhagen Date: Saturday, 11 November Kick-off: 19:45 GMT
Coverage: Live text commentary and report on the BBC Sport website; Updates on Radio Five Live

Assistant manager Roy Keane wants his team "to play on the front foot" as the Republic of Ireland face Denmark in the first leg of their World Cup play-off.

The Republic, aiming to qualify for their first World Cup since 2002, play in Copenhagen on Saturday before the second leg in Dublin on Tuesday.

"This is what you're born to do. Face these challenges and get on with it," Keane said before the first leg.

Jeff Hendrick (glute) and Stephen Ward (knee) are injury concerns.

"I'm not overly worried," Keane said of Hendrick. "Come Thursday or Friday if he's not training, yeah."

Ward sat out training for the second consecutive day as a precaution as he nurses a knee injury.

"The most important thing is for the country and the players to get through the games," added Keane.

"We know how tough it is and hopefully if the players turn up it would be great.

"I watched the World Cup in 1982 and was lucky to play in one in 1994 and it would be great for these lads to have that experience.

"But the Danish lads will be saying exactly the same thing. This will be a huge mental, emotional and physical challenge.

"We won't be clever and play on the counter-attack, we'd like to be on the front foot, that suits us better, going for it and trying to get the right result."

Denmark's danger man

Martin O'Neill hopes to find a way to frustrate Denmark's Christian Eriksen.

The build-up to Saturday's first-leg has focused on the attacking talents of Christian Eriksen, who is seen as Denmark's most influential player.

"How do you stop him? Good question…,' said Keane when asked about the Tottenham playmaker.

'Hopefully we'll have players in the team who know what to do with him. You don't want to give him time and space, although the really good players create that anyway.

'We've come up against good players before and have found a way to stop them, that's one of the challenges we face here.

Centre-half Ciaran Clark also believes that the Irish defence can cope with Eriksen.

"Obviously we know they've got good players but we've come up against teams with good individuals before," the Newcastle defender said.

"We've got a lot of good players ourselves and I think if we focus on our own performance then the group and the staff are confident in our ability and if we can take that into the games then we'll be ok.

"Other teams will now know that it's not going to be a simple game against us.

"It's all about being organised and staying focused and working hard. We know we've got the ability to go and get goals but we've also shown that we can defend as a team, which is a real bonus."

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Republic of Ireland squad

Goalkeepers: Randolph (Middlesbrough), Elliot (Newcastle), Westwood (Sheffield Wednesday), Doyle (Bradford).

Defenders: Christie (Middlesbrough), Doherty (Wolves), McShane (Reading), Duffy (Brighton), Clark (Newcastle United), O'Shea (Sunderland), Long (Burnley), Ward (Burnley).

Midfielders: McGeady (Sunderland), Hendrick (Burnley), Brady (Burnley), Whelan, Hourihane (Aston Villa), Meyler (Hull), Arter (Bournemouth), O'Kane (Leeds), Hoolahan (Norwich), O'Dowda (Bristol), McClean (West Brom).

Forwards: Long (Southampton), Murphy (Nottingham Forest), Hogan (Aston Villa), O'Brien (Millwall).


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