The Ireland players who can make the difference against Denmark

Irish players are becoming used to make or break, do or die, football matches, with the hopes of a nation resting once again on their shoulders this weekend.

But success over two legs against Denmark would seal Ireland’s place at the World Cup for the first time since 2002 so these next matches will be that bit extra special.

Huge selection decisions await for Martin O’Neill, with James McCarthy, Richard Keogh and Sean Maguire all out with injuries while David Meyler is suspended for the first leg.

Here then are our three key players ready to step up and book Ireland’s place at Russia 2018. The World Cup awaits.

Robbie Brady

With FIFA deciding not to take action against Brady after the Wales game following his off-the-ball clash with Ashley Williams, there was a collective sigh of relief across the country.

Action Images via Reuters/John Sibley

Without Meyler, Brady’s experience will be key for Ireland as will his creativity from open play and set-pieces where he can put dangerous balls into the box.

What Martin O’Neill would give for an assist as delightful as the one Brady laid on for Chris Wood at Wembley to give Burnley a 1-1 draw against Tottenham earlier this season.

James McClean

Arguably Ireland’s most important player during the qualification period, O’Neill has already emphasised why McClean is vital to the cause in his pre-match press conferences.

It will be imperative that McClean keeps on the good side of the referee against Denmark so he can have a full impact on the game and drive Ireland forward.

Action Images via Reuters/John Sibley

“We need him in these two games,” said O’Neill. “And he can see a bit of red mist and sometimes, that’s what makes him.

“Other times, he needs to just cool down; cool it for a second. He just needs to be a wee bit more careful. We could not do without him.”

Glenn Whelan

Reuters / Clodagh Kilcoyne Livepic

Whelan may not take the positive headlines and score the glorious goals of some of his team-mates but his contribution to the team is no less.

An industrious midfielder who has been pivotal to Aston Villa’s recent rise under Steve Bruce, he continues to break up play and launch counter-attacks.

With the dangerous Christian Eriksen likely to start for Denmark, Whelan could be the perfect man to stop the Danesl most influential man and help Ireland to a famous victory.

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