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Nov 15, 2018 at 7.45pm UK at Aviva Stadium (Dublin)
Attendance: 31,241
Rep. IrelandRepublic of Ireland
N. IrelandNorthern Ireland

Whelan reflects on Republic of Ireland career ahead of Northern Ireland clash

Whelan reflects on Republic of Ireland career ahead of Northern Ireland clash
© Reuters
The midfielder came off second-best in his "tiffs" with Martin O'Neill.

Glenn Whelan has insisted he has never been cowed by the criticism that has come his way during his Republic of Ireland career.

The 34-year-old Aston Villa midfielder will make his 85th, and probably final, senior appearance for his country in Thursday night's friendly against Northern Ireland having spent much of the last decade toiling away in the Republic engine room while others have grabbed the headlines.

His prosaic style has not always been appreciated as much by the critics as it has by his managers and team-mates.

However, asked whether he felt under-appreciated, Whelan replied: "I didn't care. When I come in, all I want to do is impress my family first and foremost; then I wanted to impress the manager.

"I wanted to play, so no, headlines and stuff like that, it definitely wasn't about coming in and making them better.

"I would like to think the players that I've played with, if ever you want to speak to anyone and ask what I was like, they would tell you the truth."

Whelan has found his opportunities limited in the last year with current boss Martin O'Neill looking to blood a new generation of midfielders, and he has no problem with that.

While he has indicated that he will always be available if required in the future, he will take a step back from international football on good terms with O'Neill, something which has not necessarily always been the case after a couple of training ground spats between the two.

He said with a smile: "The manager was refereeing and gave a bad decision. I was quickly put back in my place. We've had a couple of tiffs, but I've lost, so it's 2-0 to the manager."

If the Republic will be hoping for a positive result ahead of Monday night's Nations League trip to Denmark, so too will Northern Ireland as they prepare to face Austria in the same competition on Sunday.

Northern Ireland manager Michael O'Neill said: "It'll be a game that both teams will be desperate to come out and get a result in, especially with the results the way they've been for both teams in recent times.

"It's an important game for both teams but there'll be a real determination for us to go out and get a result and take something back up the road and set us up nicely for Sunday."

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Today's Olympic highlights header

Saturday's key events

· After silvers in both the men's and women's events, Team GB will be fancied to get on the podium again in the mixed relay (11.30pm-1am)

· Touted as Michael Phelps's successor, Caeleb Dressel already has two gold medals from these Games and he will be going for a third in the men's 50m butterfly final (2.30am)
· It is Katie Ledecky vs. Ariarne Titmus III in the women's 800m freestyle final, with Ledecky entering as firm favourite (2.46am)
· Great Britain will be heavily fancied to add another gold medal to their swimming haul, having produced by far the fastest qualifying time for the mixed 4x100m medley relay final (3.43am)

· Dina Asher-Smith is one of three British women in the 100m semi-finals (3.01am-3.20am), and will hope to challenge for a medal in what is likely to be a star-studded final (1.50pm)
· The inaugural Olympic 4x400m mixed relay event concludes with Great Britain one of the eight finalists going for gold (1.35pm)

· Team GB's dreams of an unlikely gold are still alive in the women's event as they face France in their semi-final (3.30am). The winners will face either New Zealand or Fiji in the gold medal match later in the day (10am)

· Gold medals are up for grabs in the windsurfer - RS:X finals. Emma Wilson participates for Team GB in the women's final (6.33am), while Tom Squires is in action in the men's (7.33am)

· Following his shock semi-final defeat, ending his hopes of a Golden Slam in 2021, Novak Djokovic battles for bronze against Pablo Carreno Busta (7am)
· The women's singles event reaches its conclusion with the gold medal match between Belinda Bencic and Marketa Vondrousova

> Today's schedule in full
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