IRELAND now have England - and Scotland - firmly in their sights after they used the friendly with Northern Ireland to blow away the cobwebs.
The Republic and Northern Ireland played out a scoreless draw at Lansdowne Road yesterday in a behind-closed-doors game as the focus moves on to Sunday’s meeting in Dublin with the English.
“It was a good run-out for us, it’s a shame it was a 0-0 draw but we’re all ready to carry on now and the England game is a massive one for us,” said Ireland star Robbie Brady after that training match with the North. “Hopefully the England game will be a good one for everyone involved but Scotland is massive, we all know how big it is and none of us will get complacent, we know what we have to do.
“It was good to get everyone in and get the cobwebs off. A few of the players had a few weeks off, the rest of us only finished up last week so it was good to get in, get the dust off and get concentrating on the games ahead,” added Brady, hoping to retain the left back slot which he earned against Poland in the last qualifier.
Team-mate Paul McShane, who has recovered from a serious injury after a clash with Marouane Fellaini, is also eyeing up England.
“There are no friendlies in games like this, England is a game that everyone’s looking forward to and now we have two massive games,” said Paul McShane.
“You’re training all the time but it’s nothing compared to 11 v 11. For a behind-closed-doors game there was a good tempo to it, sometimes those matches are like a testimonial game, but there was a good intensity to it yesterday.”
Scotland take on Qatar today to prepare for Ireland. “It is going to be an intense game,” Scotland boss Gordon Strachan says of the Dublin date. “You need to be fit to play in this game, you need to have experience to play in it and you need to relish it.”