Ireland need to up their game ahead of Georgia visit

After a 4-0 win over Gibraltar on Friday night, Ireland once again must settle for nothing less than three points when Georgia make the visit to Dublin in a crucial Euro 2016 qualifier.

Georgia will prove a more tricky opponent than minnows Gibraltar with Ireland lucky to leave Tbilisi with a win last September thanks to two late goals from Everton winger Aiden McGeady.

Aiden McGeady saved Ireland's blushes with a 2-1 win in Georgia image: bbc.com

Aiden McGeady saved Ireland’s blushes with a 2-1 win in Georgia
image: bbc.com

Georgia will come to Dublin with a spring in their step after a 1-0 win over Scotland are Ireland must be aware of the threat. The Boys in Green must take nothing for granted and will need a strong showing to bag a much-needed win.

Despite a 4-0 win over Gibraltar, I was left unimpressed by Ireland’s display against one of the world’s worst teams. I guess against a team like Gibraltar you do not have to hit top gear to win, but Ireland need to up their tempo tonight or they could be in for a shock.

The biggest dilemma for manager Martin O’Neill will be to decide whether record goalscorer Robbie Keane has enough to trouble the Georgian defenders or choose Shane Long who has a lot more energy and pace than Keane.

Long may not have anywhere near the number of goals that Robbie Keane does but his goal on Friday night might just be what the Southampton striker needed to boost his confidence.

It also remains to be seen if Everton right-back comes into the starting XI after missing the Gibraltar game with a hamstring problem. I thought Derby’s Cyrus Christie gave a good account of himself and if Coleman is not 100%, I would not risk him.

It has been hard to predict a Martin O’Neill first team but I do expect the former Celtic boss to make changes tonight with the likes of Jeff Hendrick and Ciaran Clark dropping to the bench in exchange for Stoke’s Marc Wilson and Everton’s Aiden McGeady.

I have yet to see an exciting 90 minutes from Ireland under the O’Neill – Keane era and if it is anything like how they played on Friday night, Georgia would fancy their chances to cause another upset.

Robbie Keane scored a brace in the 4-0 win over Gibraltar image: bbc.co.uk

Robbie Keane scored a brace in the 4-0 win over Gibraltar
image: bbc.co.uk

Georgia did Ireland a massive favour with victory over Scotland but now the boys in Green must shift focus on taking down Georgia tonight and take a firm grasp on the third play-off place.

With a massive final two games next month against Germany in Dublin and away to Poland, Ireland need the maximum points against the weaker sides and anything less than the win tonight, then I think we can forget about Euro 2016.

This team should be seeing off Georgia tonight but I think it is going to be a tougher test than expected. I think Ireland will have enough about them to scrape out a win before their two massive tests in October.

Prediction: Ireland 2-1 Georgia

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