Robbie Brady admits the Euro 2016 qualifier shoot-out with Scotland could make or break the Republic of Ireland’s campaign.
The 23-year-old, who again impressed in the unaccustomed role of left-back in Sunday’s 0-0 friendly draw with England, is aware that victory over the Scots on Saturday would rekindle Ireland’s hopes of automatic qualification, but is also conscious that defeat could all but signal the end of their hopes.
Brady said: “Definitely, it’s a massive game – there’s no doubt about it. We were all up for it on Sunday and it was a decent result. But we know what the really important one is – it’s the game coming up and it’s no holds barred. We will be all looking to put on a show for everyone, and go and do the job.”
Brady, who troubled England with his dead-ball delivery, started at the back in March’s 1-1 qualifying draw with Group D leaders Poland and was selected again on Sunday.
He is competing with specialist Stephen Ward – who missed much of the second half of Burnley’s season through injury – for a place in the team, but, while he is still learning the role, he is hopeful he has done enough to persuade manager Martin O’Neill that he should play on Saturday after giving Raheem Sterling a tough afternoon.
He said: “He’s always tough to play against. You see him week in, week out and he’s a top, top player. I have played against him a couple of times this season and you have got to be alert You have got to be switched on. Any minute of the game, he can open you up with his speed, and he can play. But I enjoyed the challenge. Hopefully, I did do enough, but it’s up to the manager at the end of the day.”
It has been a steep learning curve for the Hull youngster, but the advice he has received from O’Neill and his coaches has been supplemented by the experience of his team-mates, and that has proved invaluable.
He said: “With the likes of John O’Shea, Marc Wilson and Paul McShane, it makes it a hell of a lot easier when you have them talking to you all game, so it’s been a big help, and I am looking forward to the weekend now.”
In the longer term, there has been speculation over Brady’s future at club level, with the Tigers having slipped out of the Barclays Premier League at the end of the season, although his intention, as it stands, is to make an immediate return to the top flight with them.
He said: “I’ll just see how it goes. But I’ll be looking forward to the challenge now of hopefully getting straight back into the Premier League.”