Martin O'Neill: We have no fear of Germany
Martin O'Neill has ordered his Republic of Ireland troops not to fear world champions Germany as they attempt to take a decisive step towards Euro 2016 qualification.
Ireland welcome the Group D leaders to the Aviva Stadium on Wednesday evening knowing victory against either the Germans or second-placed Poland in their final two games would secure a play-off place at worst, but that anything less could prove fatal to their hopes.
Joachim Low's men suffered an uncharacteristically low-key start to their campaign, losing in Poland and drawing at home with the Republic in their second and third qualifiers, but have put together a run of five successive victories since to illustrate their enduring class.
O'Neill said: "They're very strong, naturally. They're getting back to winning ways. They've had what they might consider a couple of hiccups along the way, including one against us.
"But we know what we have to do. It's a very difficult game for us, but we're capable. We have to go with all the enthusiasm and determination that that brings. We've got a bit of ability as well.
"They are class players, as is proven by them having won the World Cup just over 15 months ago, and it will be a tough night for us. But we're ready for it."
O'Neill will hope to draw once again on the spirit which secured a 1-1 draw in Gelsenkirchen 12 months ago when John O'Shea's injury-time equaliser snatched a potentially invaluable point, although the Sunderland defender will need no reminding that Germany's last visit to Dublin in October 2012 saw them crush Giovanni Trapattoni's side 6-1 in a World Cup qualifier.
The manager said: "I think the best thing to do is give it everything you've got in the game and have no regrets at the end of the game. We have to be as positive as possible and attempt to go for the game."
O'Neill, who worked with his players for the first time on Monday morning, has issues with which to contend, with midfielders Glenn Whelan and James McClean both suspended for Thursday's game after collecting third bookings of the campaign against Georgia last month and injuries threatening the participation of several other men.
Defender Marc Wilson is yet to meet up with the squad after staying behind at Stoke for treatment on a calf problem, while Everton full-back Seamus Coleman and Derby counterpart Cyrus Christie did not train with the rest of the group and Coleman's club-mate Darron Gibson was a late addition to the squad as he battles his way back to full fitness after a knee problem.
Training will increase in intensity as the week progresses ahead of a contest in which O'Neill knows his team may have to play without the ball for long periods.
He said: "I don't think that is something the players are not used to. In international football, that sometimes happens."