O’Neill predicts tough test against Georgia

Republic of Ireland manager Martin O’Neill is predicting a difficult tie when his side take on Georgia in their crucial World Cup Qualifier on Saturday.

O’Neill’s side, who currently sit second in Group D, will be looking to add another three points to the board against Georgia before they face group leaders Serbia on Tuesday.

A win would see Ireland move closer to securing at least a play-off spot, with Wales and Austria currently each four points behind, but O’Neill insists this weekend’s opposition will put up a fight despite going into the clash as underdogs.

“The good record the Republic of Ireland has against Georgia, both in competitive games and friendly matches, I don’t think that has any bearing on tomorrow,” he said.

“I think it’s a very difficult game.

“I think Georgia could have easily beaten Serbia. They played very well against us in the first half of their match in Dublin and played exceptionally well in Wales. They could easily have beaten Wales in Wales.”

The Georgians have secured just three points from six games and O’Neill believes the team will mount a strong challenge as they look to strengthen on previous results they may feel should have gone their way.

“Georgia probably would feel they should have more points on the board and for all of those reasons, and that it’s a competitive World Cup qualifying game, I think it will be a hard and difficult game for us,” he added.

“Hopefully it will be a difficult game for Georgia also. ”

Republic of Ireland have been handed a boost with the return of Burnley striker Jonathan Walters, who sat out Tuesday’s training session with an ankle problem that resulted in him missing the draw with Tottenham at the weekend.

“I’m very pleased that Jon is available for us,” O’Neill said.

“It has been a fantastic turnaround considering that the injury looked pretty bad, but he has fought it off, he looks pretty good, and of course you know how good he has been for us in the last few years.

“I’m obviously delighted that he is fit and has a chance.”

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