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Clarets Key To Ireland World Cup Dream

Martin O'Neill wants big performances from Robbie Brady and Jeff Hendrick as Jack Cork hopes to win second England cap

14 November 2017

Martin O’Neill is backing Burnley boys Jeff Hendrick and Robbie Brady to lead the Republic of Ireland to World Cup glory.

The pair were stars of Ireland’s 2016 European Championship campaign – shortly before they joined the Clarets.

And while Brady and Hendrick have not been at their best throughout the current qualifying campaign, O’Neill is looking for them re-kindle the form that lit up the Euros in France when Ireland face Denmark in the second leg of their World Cup play-off in Dublin tonight.

Robbie Brady scored a crucial goal to help Ireland through the Euro 2016 play-offs

“Robbie, Jeff and I think all those boys who forged great reputations in the Euros know that, but they should take something from it (French memories),” O’Neill told reporters.

“While every minute has not been glorious for them, they are still capable of doing it.”

After securing a 0-0 draw in the first leg in Copenhagen, Ireland will be hoping to make home advantage count as they bid to secure a place in the finals for the first time since 2002.

“We will try to be that bit more expansive if we can and deal with the ball a wee bit better,” added O’Neill, who is likely to deploy Brady back in a wide position and Hendrick in a more advanced role thanks to the return from suspension of Hull City midfielder David Meyler.

Stephen Ward (above) is set to win his 49th cap for the Republic, with Turf Moor team-mate Kevin Long expected to start on the bench.

Meanwhile, Jack Cork will be hoping to win his second full cap when England play Brazil at Wembley on another busy night of international football for the Clarets.

The Burnley midfielder made his England debut as a late substitute in last Friday evening’s 0-0 draw with world champions Germany.

That followed a late call-up to Gareth Southgate’s squad for the 28-year-old – an ever-present in Burnley’s superb start to the season.

Cork had to miss a short family break with his wife and children in Dubai to answer his country’s call.

However, his father Alan – the former Wimbledon and Sheffield United striker ­– was at Wembley for Cork’s big moment.

Past and present: Jack Cork trains with ex-Claret Michael Keane

And he may have more support on Tuesday night if he gets another taste of the action against Brazil, six years after his last appearance for England’s under-21s and a decade on from playing League One football on loan with Bournemouth

“I told the family to go because I didn’t think I’d feature against Germany. I thought there’d be more chance on Tuesday and I’d maybe get on then,” said Cork.

“I feel like I’ve done it the hard way. I’ve done my graft and played all the games from League One, to Championship – put myself out there.

“I feel like I’ve played enough games to have merited a chance and I’m just really happy the manager has trusted me to get in there.

“It was amazing, one of the highlights of my career. Just to come out at Wembley, against Germany, in a big game like that and get on the pitch is a dream.”

Back on World Cup duty, Chris Wood will have to wait until the early hours of Thursday morning (UK time) to try and steer New Zealand to the finals in Russia.

The Clarets’ striker, joint second highest scorer in his country’s history, was held back for the first leg of the All Whites’ play-off against Peru in Wellington following a recent hamstring strain – coming on for the final 15 minutes of a 0-0 draw.

However, he is set to lead the attack as New Zealand look for the win – and arguably the biggest result in their history – they need to qualify for their third finals by utilising a height advantage against the 10th world-ranked Peruvians.

Elsewhere, Sam Vokes, Steven Defour and Johann Berg Gudmundsson could all see friendly action.

Vokes’ Wales play Panama in Cardiff, Defour’s Belgium face Japan in Brussels and Gudmundsson is in Qatar with Iceland to play the host country as they build up their first appearance in a World Cup finals.

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