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Dublin: 12 °C Monday 16 September, 2019
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Ireland set to endure soaring Tbilisi temperatures as Walters gets the green light

The Boys in Green meet Georgia in a tricky World Cup qualifier tomorrow.

Walters (centre) training with the Ireland squad at the Dinamo Arena today.
Walters (centre) training with the Ireland squad at the Dinamo Arena today.
Image: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Ben Blake reports from the Boris Paichadze Dinamo Arena in Tbilisi 

IRELAND BOSS MARTIN O’Neill is hopeful that his players can deal with the sweltering Tbilisi heat when they take to the field in tomorrow’s World Cup qualifier.

Temperatures have been hitting 35 degrees celsius in the Georgian capital and although kick-off isn’t until 8pm local time (5pm Irish), the game is likely to be played in the high 20s.

Ireland’s 24-man squad trained at the Boris Paichadze Dinamo Arena this evening and the Derry man will have his fingers crossed that his team have acclimatised sufficiently.

“I’ve been told that it has been a hot summer so I don’t imagine it will be much cooler a couple of hours later,” O’Neill replied, when asked about the sticky conditions during his pre-match press conference.

“It’s there, it’s what you face and I think we just have cope with it as best we can. Hopefully the players will adapt and just take it on from there, but it will be very hot.”

He later added: “It’s going to be warm out here and I think it will be about how you deal with the ball, as much as anything else. We need to try to keep it in these conditions.”

Jon Walters has been Ireland’s main injury concern this week but, having trained fully yesterday, O’Neill confirmed that the influential Burnley forward will be fit to feature.

“I’m very pleased that Jon is available for us,” he added. “He has fought on and looks pretty good. You know how important he has been for us in the last few years.

I’m delighted that he’s fit and that he has a chance.”

Ipswich Town’s David McGoldrick hasn’t travelled as there were complications with his wife after she gave birth this week and, with just three strikers to choose from at present, O’Neill will assess the situation and possibly call up another forward for Tuesday’s meeting with Serbia in Dublin.

“That’s a distinct possibility,” he said. “I can’t give it much consideration now but David McGoldrick’s wife delivered a baby and she lost a lot of blood during that time. She’s out of hospital now and I think it was important for him to be there.

“He may well be available for Tuesday, but if not — although it is not in my mind at all — then obviously I will consider other options. The one that you mentioned [adding another striker] is definitely one I would consider.”

Martin O'Neill O'Neill during today's press conference. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

The Boys in Green have won all eight of their past meetings with Georgia but that does not tell the whole story and six of those victories were by the odd goal. Although Vladimir Weiss’ side have taken three points from six matches in Group D, the Ireland boss is certainly not taking them lightly.

Despite the good record that the Republic of Ireland have against Georgia in competitive matches and friendly games, I don’t think that has any bearing,” O’Neill insisted.

“Georgia could easily have beaten Serbia here and they played very well against us in the first half in Dublin. They did very well against Wales too and could easily could have won against them.

“So Georgia will probably feel they should have more points on the board. For all of those reasons, I think it will be a very difficult game for us. Hopefully it will be a difficult game for Georgia too.”

Marc Wilson on the move again as he drops down to the Championship

Do you agree with our Ireland XI to face Georgia?

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Ben Blake

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