McCarthy says team is fully focused on
EVERTON star James McCarthy promises that Ireland have put their indifferent form in friendlies behind them and are fully focused on getting a three-point haul from Sunday's qualifier in Georgia.
Wednesday's 2-0 win over Oman was a much-needed victory at senior level after a barren run, and that win should make some dent in Ireland's slide down the ladder in terms of FIFA rankings.
It's also a fact that two years ago Ireland comfortably beat Oman in a September friendly and followed that up with a dismal display in the next competitive game (1-6 at home to Germany) so only so many lessons can be taken from the Oman win.
McCarthy sat that one out as he was suffering from blisters but he will be back in the Ireland side in the blistering head of Georgia on Sunday.
"It's a massive campaign for us. The boys want to get to France. It's starting Sunday, we'll give it our best shot, and try and take three points," says McCarthy, aware that recent form - before Wednesday - under Martin O'Neill was poor, with no win since last November's demolition of a poor Latvia side.
"I don't think we're looking at the negatives of losing games, you want to win friendlies and get a positive start. But we're taking it a game at a time. It's a tricky one, it's a good one, we'll look forward to it and give it our best start.
"Maybe a lot of people are looking at it and are saying we haven't got off to the best of starts but I think we're gelling as a team. The gaffer has come in, it's a new squad, the gaffer is getting to know each and every one of us. He's getting the best team on the pitch. Hopefully we've got that now getting the boys back from injury and stuff.
"A win is massive, obviously. It gets an away game out of the way. You want to get off to the best of starts and get points on the board as soon as possible. You don't want to be playing catch up. You don't want to be saying 'we need to catch them and do this'. We want a good start. The gaffer is getting his strongest squad and now we're trying to push on."
His Everton team-mate Aiden McGeady suggested this week that the Irish side were not always well prepared in terms of the opposition under Giovanni Trapattoni but McCarthy insists that the side have done their home work ahead of this game in Georgia. "We've watched a few clips," he says, aware that big guns like Spain and France struggled there on the road to Brazil 20124.
"We've seen the France game. They drew 0-0 over there and Spain just beat them. We know it's not going to be easy, it's going to be tough over there. But we need to go there and try and put a show on. We'll give it our best shot, we know it's going to be tricky.
"People are talking about how warm out there, it's one that we need to go there and try and get three points on the board. Then Germany and Scotland are to be played, there are a few good games coming up, we need get three points on the board as soon as possible."
He was rested for the Oman game but the former Wigan player will be ready for Tbilisi, he says.
"I had a couple of blisters, I think it's more serious than a blister," McCarthy explained, adding that he had recovered enough to take part in yesterday's traiing session at a sunny Malahide.
"I'm happy to be out training and happy to be in the squad again.
"I'm fit, I've been doing a bit in the gym and stuff and joined in the team. It's a big bonus for myself and now we can look forward to Georgia."
And McCarthy hopes that this could, finally, be the campaign when he imposes himself in the side and the psyche. "I've had 20 odd caps, I want to impose myself more on the pitch for Ireland. I've done well enough to be honest for my club and I want to take that into the internationals. But at times, international and club football is different, obviously a lot of people say I don't take the game by the scruff of the neck maybe like I do back at club," he stated.
"But it's difficult at times, a lot of people are saying this and that. Any time I go on the pitch I give my all. Since my first cap, I've did that since day one. I'll keep working hard and try and keep improving as a player. I'm no different to anyone else."