Martin O’Neill has been in charge of the Republic of Ireland since November 2013

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Republic of Ireland boss Martin O’Neill has defended his side’s lack of creativity ahead of Tuesday’s World Cup play-off second leg with Denmark.

The teams drew 0-0 in a poor quality first leg in Copenhagen on Saturday.

A score draw will be enough to send the Danes through but O’Neill made no apologies about his team’s approach.

“It would be lovely to have a prolific goalscorer in the side,” he said, “if you don’t have that, then you have to try to find other ways”.

Denmark, who are ranked seven places above the Republic, are still smarting from the stalemate at the Parken Stadium, where keeper Darren Randolph repeatedly denied them.

The Irish side has been vaunted for its durability rather than its easiness on the eye, with Denmark midfielder Thomas Delaney admitting trying to break them down was like attempting to “open a can of baked beans with your bare hands”.

Shane Duffy says Danes ‘won’t be looking forward’ to Dublin return leg

O’Neill insists he is simply playing to the strengths of squad, which does not possess a striker of the quality of now retired top goalscorer Robbie Keane.

A smiling O’Neill joked: “it was a shame that when I came in here Robbie Keane was the same age as me, unfortunately”.

“That is what we have been trying to do, we have been trying to find ways for the last couple of years to win matches when we don’t maybe possess that [goalscorer].”

“But there is a terrific spirit in the camp, a great never-say-die spirit and we have to take it one more time.

“We’ll try and be a bit more expansive if we can but we’ve got to find a way to win a match. These players have been able to do that the last couple of years.”

O’Neill wants to rekindle spirit of Bosnia

The team reached the Euro 2016 finals with a 2-0 play-off home win over Bosnia two years ago.

The manager has called on his players to use that result as an inspiration on Tuesday night.

“Some of the players can draw on part of that,” O’Neill said.

That victory over Bosnia in 2015, after the teams had drawn 1-1 in the first leg, was the last time the Republic of Ireland scored two goals at home in a competitive fixture apart from a 2-0 win over 167th-ranked Moldova last month.

A 1-0 victory will be enough to book the Republic’s ticket to Russia, but O’Neill accepts they may have to score twice having failed to secure a precious away goal in Copenhagen.

“We may need a couple of goals in the game because to keep out Denmark for two games might be tough,” he said.

“The evening in Dublin was really fantastic against Bosnia, I think some of the players can draw on part of that.

Republic of Ireland manager Martin O’Neill

Selection issues

Hull City midfielder David Meyler will return to the side after missing the first leg through suspension.

With him anchoring the midfield, it should release Jeff Hendrick and Robbie Brady to commit more to the attack, with Callum O’Dowda the man expected to drop out of the starting team.

Up front, O’Neill must decide whether to stick with Daryl Murphy as a lone front man or go with the more mobile Shane Long.


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