Sean St Ledger is hoping not to lose too much sleep over the prospect of trying to keep Thierry Henry and Nicolas Anelka at bay.

The 25-year-old Republic of Ireland defender is in line to win his eighth senior cap in Saturday's World Cup play-off clash with France at Croke Park before heading to Paris for the return leg next Wednesday.

Asked if that thought was keeping him awake at night, St Ledger said: "I don't fancy facing Anelka and Henry on two hours' sleep. It's a daunting prospect. I have watched them on a Saturday night on Match of the Day, I have seen people trying to catch Henry and it's a scary thought."

He added: "But at the same time, I look forward to it. It's one of those games I have always dreamt of playing in and it's only a few days away.

"I want to play in the Premier League at some point - that's why I joined Middlesbrough - and I would have to be playing against these players week in and week out, so it will be a good judge of how far I can go or how far I have gone.

"But only time will tell."

If manager Giovanni Trapattoni sticks with what has become his first-choice defence in recent games, St Ledger will be the junior member of a quartet which will also include the hugely-experienced Dunne, Kevin Kilbane and John O'Shea, who have amassed 214 caps between them.

However, his speed across the ground could prove vital, although he is not expecting to be able to show Barcelona hitman Henry a clean pair of heels.

St Ledger said: "I don't know about racing Henry - I'm not that quick.

"It is going to be a difficult game for us, but Kevin, Richard, Shay (Given) and John have played against these players week in and week out and have had the experience, and I am sure they will pass that on to me."

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Topics:
Football
Nicolas Anelka
Sean St Ledger
John O'Shea
Championship
Premier League
Kevin Kilbane
Middlesbrough
Thierry Henry