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Preview: Republic of Ireland vs. Georgia

Sports Mole previews the Euro 2016 qualifier between the Republic of Ireland and Georgia in Dublin.

The Republic of Ireland will be hoping to keep up the pressure on Germany and Poland when they welcome Georgia to Dublin in their Euro 2016 qualifier on Monday evening.

Martin O'Neill's side got back to winning ways with a comfortable victory over Gibraltar, but they are still two points outside of the automatic qualification spots for next year's tournament.


Republic of Ireland

Sunderland's Martin O'Neill prior to kick off in the match against Norwich on March 17, 2013© Getty Images

Ireland made a bright start to their qualifying campaign with a 2-1 victory in their opening match against Georgia last September and they followed that up with a comfortable win over Gibraltar and a surprise draw with Germany.

However, their early momentum was halted when they suffered a 1-0 defeat to Scotland at Hampden Park and only a stoppage-time equaliser from Shane Long salvaged a draw against Poland in Dublin.

Their winless run stretched to four games after they were held to a 1-1 draw by Scotland in their last home fixture, but they recorded their first win of 2015 on Friday evening with a 4-0 win over Gibraltar.

The victory moved them above Scotland and into third place in the group, but they are still two points behind Poland and a further four away from Germany, with just three games left to play.

With Germany and Poland to come in their final two matches in October, a victory over Georgia is crucial for O'Neill's team, as they try to reach the European Championship for only the third time in their history.

Recent form: LWDDDW


Georgia

Steven Naismith (L) of Scotland vie for a ball with Levan Mchedlidze (R) of Georgia during their Euro 2016 qualifying football match between Georgia and Scotland in Tbilisi on September 4, 2015© Getty Images

Although Georgia are still mathematically capable of qualifying for next year's finals, it would take a number of surprise results for them to break into the group's top three places.

They have lost five of their seven group matches, with their only wins coming against Gibraltar and Scotland, so a spot at a major tournament is likely to elude them once again.

They will head to Dublin in good spirits following a 1-0 win over the Scots on Friday evening, thanks to Valeri Kazaishvili's well-taken strike.

Kakhaber Tskhadadze's side will also be confident of causing more problems for Ireland, as they almost held their opponents to a draw in their opening group match, before Aiden McGeady struck a last-minute winner in Tbilisi.

Recent form: LWLLLW


Team News

Robbie Keane of Republic of Ireland celebrates after scoring Ireland's 3rd goal during the UEFA EURO 2016 Qualifier between Gibraltar and Republic of Ireland at Estadio Algarve on September 4, 2015 in Faro, Portugal.© Getty Images

O'Neill is likely to make a number of changes from the team who beat Gibraltar, but Robbie Keane will continue to lead the attack after taking his international tally to 67 goals following a double in Algarve.

Long came off the bench to score Ireland's fourth goal of the evening and he could replace Jonathan Walters in the starting lineup.

Seamus Coleman should also return at full-back, while McGeady could earn a recall despite a lack of playing time at Everton.

Meanwhile, the Georgians are expected to keep faith with the same team that beat Scotland, meaning that Levan Mchedlidze will start as their lone striker.

Republic of Ireland possible starting lineup:
Given, Coleman, O'Shea, Clark, Brady, Whelan, McCarthy, Hoolahan, McGeady, Long, Keane

Georgia possible starting lineup:
Revishvili, Lobjanidze, Kashia, Kverkvelia, Navalovski, Amisulashvili, Kazaishvili, Kankava, Ananidze, Okriashvili, Mchedlidze


Head To Head

It took a late strike from McGeady to give Ireland all three points when the teams met last September at the Boris Paichadze Dinamo Arena.

The victory extended Ireland's winning run to six games against the Georgians and they are set to meet again in next year's 2018 World Cup qualifying campaign.


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We say: Republic of Ireland 2-0 Georgia

Three points are vital for Ireland as they prepare to face Germany and Poland in their final two group matches. The victory over Gibraltar will have been a much-needed confidence boost and we feel that they should have enough quality in the final third to overpower the Georgians in Dublin.



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Andrew Robertson of Scotland battles for the ball with Giorgi Papava of Georgia during the EURO 2016 Qualifier match on October 11, 2014
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