"Georgia will take points off teams without doubt" - Martin O'Neill wary of resurgent Group D rivals

Ireland have taken one point from one game thus far in their World Cup qualifying group

Martin O'Neill

Image: ©INPHO/Gary Carr 

Martin O'Neill maintains that Georgia will not be a team who should be overlooked and says that they are capable of taking points of teams in the Republic of Ireland's World Cup qualifying group.

The Republic of Ireland host their World Cup qualifiying Group D rivals on Thursday night at the Aviva Stadium and speaking ahead of the game, O'Neill remained wary of Georgia's threat. 

"If anyone watched the Georgia/Austria game, they caused Austria a lot of problems over the course of the game," he said. "They could have forced an equaliser and in fact could have scored first.

"This is a difficult match for us, Georgia will take points off teams without doubt... The games are difficult, we knew that from the beginning. We've got to deal with that now. It'd be great if we had everyone fit and ready to go but it's on the case, but we'll deal with it accordingly."

Ireland come off the back of a 2-2 draw away to Serbia, having conceded a 1-0 lead, Daryl Murphy scored his first goal for Ireland to rescue a point away from home. O'Neill says he is hoping to remain on the "front foot" as the home side. 

"That's not the first thought in my head about changing systems. You want to get on the front foot and try to attack.

"We're playing at home, so the onus is on us to try and attack which is what we have done in all the games we've played at home during my time. Sometimes you are driven back, not because you want to be driven back but because the opposition team have the ball.    

"We've had difficult games in the past and I don't expect this to be any different."

As for injury concerns, James McCarthy has been given the all-clear to play despite his lack of game time with Everton in the Premier League.

"He's trained the last couple of days and he's not feeling too bad at all. Obviously [he] hasn't played for a little while but he's fit and if selected he's ready to go. 

"I think that he's over the injury in that aspect, it's more fitness than anything else that would be the concern. So, if selected, he wants to go." 

You can listen to the game, live on Off the Ball on Thursday night. Kick-off is at 7.45pm, with live buildup starting from the Lansdowne Road venue at 7pm.