Dunne insists home crowd can play a huge role

Dunne insists home crowd can play a huge role

Richard Dunne, the Republic of Ireland defender, has admitted ...
11th Nov 2009


Richard Dunne, the Republic of Ireland defender, has admitted the quality of opposition in this weekend's World Cup play-off first leg at Croke Park makes the role of the home supporters all the more important.



France bring with them to Dublin a galaxy of stars and Dunne freely acknowledges Les Blues carry the favourites tag to emerge with the ticket for next year's finals in South Africa.



However, the Aston Villa centre-back takes inspiration from the team's performance during the unbeaten group campaign - pointedly the home match against Italy when they were seconds away from beating the World Champions.



"We are a tough team to be beat and that's down to our team spirit and attitude. There's no doubt France will be favourites and if they underestimate us - well fine.



"But if they come thinking they'll be allowed to just pass the ball around the pitch and walk their way to South Africa, we'll have to show them that, if all they know about us is our fighting spirit, we've got to come out fighting.



"It all comes down to the atmosphere on Saturday. I can imagine the whole city will be buzzing from early in the day, building up to the game and once it's kicks-off, if we've got all those fans screaming us on, it will be a really good night."



He adds: "France have all the flair and they've got players throughout the team that can skips past players. So if someone gets beaten, someone else has to cover. If we all have to come off the pitch crawling because we're that tired, that's got to be way."



Dunne's defensive qualities have been integral to Ireland's progress under manager Giovanni Trapattoni but he's also proved useful at the other end in the qualifiers by grabbing goals from set-pieces in home and away matches against Bulgaria.



At Villa, the club he joined from Manchester City earlier in the season, goals in back-to-back Premier league games against his ex-club and Chelsea underlined his threat in the air and he's eager to maintain his knack for scoring this Saturday.



"It does help with the quality of set-pieces coming in from Stephen Hunt, Damien Duff or whoever," he said in praise of his international colleagues.


"9 times out of 10, it's in the right area. Myself and Sean (St Ledger) have scored some couple goals this season, and John (O'Shea) is good in the air, so we've got a few people who can go head the ball. Hopefully, that will be our main strength on the night."


Meanwhile, it was confirmed following Ireland's training session on Wednesday that both Liam Miller and Shane Long have been forced to withdraw from the squad due to calf injuries. There are no plans to call up any replacements.