Mick McCarthy will send the Republic of Ireland into a very difficult Euro 2020 qualifying showdown with Georgia on Tuesday night hoping to erase the memory of a grim evening in Gibraltar.
Ireland ground out a far-from convincing 1-0 win in difficult conditions at the Victoria Stadium to launch their campaign with the three points they needed, but gained little else from their trip to the Rock.
Here, Press Association Sport takes a look at some of the talking points surrounding the game.
MMcC: Very excited about managing in Dublin again. Can't wait to stand there, being the manager and hearing the national anthem.— FAIreland ⚽️🇮🇪 (@FAIreland) March 25, 2019
McCarthy pulled on the green shirt of Ireland 54 times and then led the nation in his first spell as manager to the 2002 World Cup finals, where they famously prospered despite the high-profile departure of skipper Roy Keane. McCarthy still enjoys a huge degree of goodwill as a result and – while Saturday night’s exploits in Gibraltar may have set pulses racing for the wrong reasons – he will want to make a big impression in his first home game.
Not all right on the night
One of McCarthy’s first big decisions was to find a place for both Everton right-back Seamus Coleman and Wolves wing-back Matt Doherty in his starting line-up at the Victoria Stadium. By his own admission, it did not work and he must now decide whether to persist with Doherty lining up ahead of his captain in an orthodox midfield role, whether to accommodate the pair in another way or whether to field only one of them.
Sweating on Shane
Brighton defender Shane Duffy has been a mainstay of the Ireland team in recent seasons, making his presence felt in particular in both penalty areas. However, he returned from Gibraltar with an ankle problem which prompted medics to send him for a scan, and McCarthy faces an anxious wait to see if he can continue with John Egan and Kevin Long standing by.
David McGoldrick and Sean Maguire were handed the attacking roles against Gibraltar with the former at times dropping deep in an attempt to create space for his sidekick. The ploy was rewarded with limited success as Maguire struggled to find space behind the home defence. Aiden O’Brien is the only striker in the current squad to have scored a senior international goal and his more direct approach might give McCarthy a different option.
Georgia’s record again the Republic is not good on paper, but the statistics do not come close to telling the fully story. Ireland needed a last-gasp Aiden McGeady strike to win in Tbilisi in September 2014, and lone goals from Jonathan Walters and Coleman respectively clinched home victories in September 2015 and October 2016. That came before the Georgians avoided defeat by the Irish for the first time in nine attempts to date with a 1-1 home draw in September 2017 on a night when they were unfortunate not to emerge with more.
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