Norwich City’s Russell Martin draws inspiration from Ipswich play-off triumph for Scotland’s Euro2016 quest

Scotland's Ikechi Anya and Norwich City captain Russell Martin share a joke in the build-up to Satur

Scotland's Ikechi Anya and Norwich City captain Russell Martin share a joke in the build-up to Saturday's Euro2016 qualifier. Photo: Danny Lawson/PA Wire - Credit: PA

Norwich City captain Russell Martin insists the Canaries' epic Championship play-off semi-final tussles against derby rivals Ipswich were the perfect preparation for this weekend's Euro 2016 qualifying trip to Dublin.

Martin and club-mate Steven Whittaker could well have to try and subdue Wes Hoolahan in the Republic of Ireland ranks for what is shaping up to be a pivotal Group D meeting.

All three were key figures in Norwich's Championship Wembley win against Middlesbrough last month, which sealed an instant Premier League return, but Martin is now focused on Scotland's bid to reach the finals in France.

Gordon Strachan's squad edged out the Irish 1-0 in Glasgow earlier in the campaign, and Martin is drawing on the memory of that battle and City's triumphant promotion bid for inspiration.

'The first game was the most intense I have played all season, to be honest, maybe apart from those play-off semi-finals,' said Martin. 'It was full-blooded, hectic and frantic, but when the dust settled and we had a bit of time to play, we did get it down and play and we played some really good stuff.

'I think the game will start the same vein this time. It is up to us to try and slow it down a bit and try and play at the tempo and control the game the way we want to.'

Martin knows the threat posed by Hoolahan in the Irish ranks.

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'Wes is technically a very gifted footballer,' he said. 'He is totally different to anything else Ireland have got in their squad. On his day, he can be a special player, that's for sure. The way he holds onto the ball allows others to play. He will be one to look out for and make sure we do a job on him.

'I've played with him for six years at Norwich now and he's been brilliant for us. He has only really got himself into the Ireland squad in the last couple of years. It has come quite late for him. But I know he's been pushing hard for it for a long time. He enjoys going away with Ireland and he is desperate to be involved.

'Even if he only comes on for 20 or 30 minutes, he will always make something happen. We have to make sure we are alert to that. He is a really creative player and picks up nice positions. He is an intelligent footballer.

'We will go through their players and team individually before the game and I'm sure the manager might ask Steven and myself a bit more about Wes. We will give him all the info we can.

'You ask any of the lads and it would be the ultimate, the pinnacle of their career, to live a dream and play at the finals of a major tournament. We have to make sure we are there.'