Kasper Schmeichel wants Denmark back in big time

"When you're sat at home watching, it's a painful experience: it's not something I want to do again," said Kasper Schmeichel as he vowed to end Denmark's final tournament absence.

Kasper Schmeichel
Kasper Schmeichel ©AFP

Having failed to qualify for the 2014 FIFA World Cup or UEFA EURO 2016, Denmark are seeking to put that right and earn a ticket to Russia 2018.

Their European Qualifiers campaign got off to a solid start, Aage Hareide's team beating Armenia 1-0, but things now become a bit trickier. They visit Poland on Saturday then host Montenegro on Tuesday, both sides having drawn their Group E openers away from home.

Having missed September's match as he recovered from a hernia operation, goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel is back for the Danes and unperturbed about facing Robert Lewandoswki, who has 14 goals in his last 11 qualifying games for Poland.

"For me, it doesn't really matter who I'm playing against," Schmeichel said. "I'll have the same amount of focus, the same drive as always. I'm not really thinking of it in that sense, I'm thinking more of the fact it's a massive game for us as a nation."

Highlights: Denmark 1-0 Armenia
Highlights: Denmark 1-0 Armenia

Montenegro present just as much of a challenge anyway, the 29-year-old added: "It's vital to win any game.

"We go into every game trying to win. Against Armenia we only won 1-0 but I think that's largely down to their goalkeeper having probably the game of his life. The shot tally was 24-1. We showed some great play."

Schmeichel was in the Denmark squad for their last final tournament at UEFA EURO 2012, but did not actually win the first of his 22 caps until the following year. Now he wants to experience the main stage for himself.

"Denmark need to qualify for a major tournament, it's been a while since we did that," he said.

Kasper Schmeichel won the Premier League last season
Kasper Schmeichel won the Premier League last season©AFP/Getty Images

"We missed the EURO and we missed the World Cup, and as great as last summer was, every evening when you're sat at home watching the EURO and you're not in it, is a painful experience. It's not something I want to have to do again."

Yet having achieved domestic glory with Leicester City in England last season, Schmeichel sees some parallels with this Danish side. "We've got a young team, a very hungry team, some great individuals who remind me a little of some of the players we have [at Leicester]," he said.

"The spirit is fantastic as well, and that's the type of thing we're trying to build on. When you have that type of team spirit off the pitch, it shows on it."