No old pal’s act for Sunderland pair O’Shea and Fletcher in crunch Euro 2016 qualifier

John O'Shea
John O'Shea
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John O’Shea will set aside his friendship with Sunderland team-mate Steven Fletcher for the Republic of Ireland’s crunch Euro 2016 qualifier against Scotland.

The Black Cats pair will come up against each other in Dublin this weekend, with Scotland striker Fletcher looking to prise open an Irish defence led by Sunderland captain O’Shea.

Obviously there won’t be too much laughing and joking just before the game

John O’Shea

The outcome tomorrow night could go a long way to deciding qualification to next summer’s European Championships, with Ireland two points adrift of third placed Scotland, who are level on points with Germany.

And while O’Shea is on good terms with Fletcher - brought to Sunderland by current Ireland boss Martin O’Neill - he says they will effectively be strangers for such a pivotal encounter.

O’Shea said: “Obviously there won’t be too much laughing and joking just before the game, but afterwards, it will be the same.

“You shake hands and you get on with things whatever the result is.

“But look, you know the player, obviously you get on very well with the player, but ultimately, you want to beat him, that’s it.

“You don’t just look at the attacking players, obviously, you look at the whole package and it will be a good test for us, without a doubt.

“They have some good, not just attacking players, they have good players all over the pitch and that’s why we know it will be a good test, but one we are looking forward to.”

Ireland arguably require a victory more than the Scots after defeat in Glasgow back in November gave Gordon Strachan’s men the advantage in a group currently led by Poland.

But O’Shea insists the consequences of this weekend’s result cannot be contemplated beforehand.

“There are still games to go in the campaign after this,” added the 34-year-old.

“But we want to win the game and then that will take care of the rest of the campaign, hopefully.

“We don’t look too far ahead.

“It’s a massive game against Scotland, one we are well prepared for and one we are looking forward to.”