We can reach round two – Republic teenager Larkin

Republic of Ireland forward Abbie Larkin
Abbie Larkin is the youngest player in the Republic squad at just 18 years old

Teenage forward Abbie Larkin says the Republic of Ireland can win both their remaining World Cup Group B matches to progress to the second round.

The tournament debutants narrowly lost 1-0 to Australia in Thursday’s opener.

However Nigeria’s draw with Canada, who the Republic play in Perth on Wednesday, was a boost to the Republic’s hopes of reaching round two.

“We’re going to go into this game thinking we are going to win,” said Larkin, 18.

Canada, who are Olympic champions, are the highest-ranked side in Group B but Friday’s goalless draw with Nigeria kept the table wide open going into the second round of games.

Defeat will confirm a group stage exit for Vera Pauw’s Republic side but victory or a draw will keep their hopes alive going into their final group game with Nigeria on 31 July.

Canada's Vanessa Gilles shows her disappointment after the Olympic champions were held to a goalless draw by Nigeria in their World Cup opener
Vanessa Gilles and her Canada team-mates were held to a surprising draw by Nigeria in their World Cup opener

After a strong showing against Australia, albeit one that ended in defeat, Larkin added that they have to approach Canada in the same manner as they did the co-hosts.

“Canada are also a really good side and we’ve got to go and think they are as good as Australia,” she added.

“After playing in the biggest stadium, it maybe is a bit of a weight lifted off our shoulders but we have to go in with a good mindset and thinking we are going to win.

“Yeah, I think we can. We’re a really good squad and if we come into Canada playing how we did at the end of the Australia game I think we can do really well.

“We can put Canada under pressure and hopefully finish the chances that we get.”

Larkin, the youngest member of Pauw’s squad at the age of 18, came on in the second half of Thursday’s defeat by the Matildas.

Steph Catley’s penalty made the breakthrough after the sturdy Irish defence had frustrated the co-hosts in Sydney.

The introduction of the forward and fellow substitute Lucy Quinn brought fresh attacking impetus to the Irish, who came close to what would have been a famous equaliser as Katie McCabe, Megan Connolly and Louise Quinn all spurned late chances.

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Debut was ‘a dream’

After a positive and fearless cameo off the bench, Shamrock Rovers teenager Larkin could now be in line to start against Canada.

Defender Louise Quinn is the only injury concern for the Canada game and is wearing a protective boot as a precaution for a knock, but she is expected to train on Monday and should be fit for the game in Perth.

“Making my World Cup debut is a dream. I had nerves but I just wanted to make the most of it,” Larkin said.

“Obviously the game wasn’t going how we wanted when I came on. There were a lot of nerves there but they were excited ones.

“We came on and we did a good job and I think that pushed the whole team on.

“I think they were actually panicking near the end so I honestly thought we were going to get a goal.”

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