Martin O’Neill will hope to get his first full qualifying campaign off to a perfect start when he takes his Irish side to Georgia later this afternoon.
The former Sunderland, Celtic and Aston Villa manage has made a rather subdued start to life as an International boss, with just two wins in his opening 8 games. The most recent of those was a 2-0 success over Oman on Wednesday.
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Goals from Kevin Doyle and Alex Pearce secured a comfortable 2-0 victory for the Irish, with the victory having the added bonus of an appearance from Robbie Keane.
The LA Galaxy man had been a doubt for the Oman and Georgia game but proved his fitness with a second half appearance midweek.
O’Neill will be without James McClean however after the Wigan man withdrew from the squad due to fitness concerns.
Despite the absence of McClean Ireland will start the game as favourites, a tag Everton midfielder James McCarthy is not under-estimating.
Speaking to the Irish Mirror, McCarthy said “France drew 0-0 over there and Spain just about beat them [1-0] so we know it’s not going to be easy.”
McCarthy is a slight doubt for the game due to a knock to the ankle and blisters on his feet although the expectation within the Irish camp is that he will be fit.
Georgia meanwhile will be confident of producing a strong start of their own. Managed by former Newcastle United and Wolves midfielder Temuri Ketsbaia, the Georgians have won just two of their last 14 Internationals and lost to France, Spain and Finland during the qualification campaign for the World cup.
They have some good recent form however with two aforementioned wins coming in their last 3 games, against Lichtenstein and Saudi Arabia. Their most recent game was a 1-0 defeat at the hands of UAE.
The two nations have met on 5 previous occasions with the Irish winning four of them and Georgia just the once, a 2-1 win at home in 2008.