Hunt eyes four-point haul
Stephen Hunt is targeting four points from Republic of Ireland's September showdowns with Slovakia and Russia.
Last Updated: 05/06/11 4:21pm
Stephen Hunt is targeting at least four points from the September showdowns with Slovakia and Russia with the Republic of Ireland in the hunt for Euro 2012 qualification.
The 29-year-old Wolves midfielder played his part in Saturday's 2-0 victory in Macedonia which left the Republic one of three teams on 13 points at the top of Group B.
The Slovakians and the Russians also both won at home to maintain the pressure, and the first round of fixtures next season will have a major say in which of them ultimately heads to Poland and Ukraine next summer.
Having missed out on World Cup qualification in a controversial play-off against France 18 months ago, Hunt is not prepared to leave anything to chance.
He said: "We knew the two of them would probably win, so it was important we won.
"Thankfully we did and we move on to the next one. It sets us up for a massive finish. It keeps us in there with Slovakia at home and Russia away.
"We might not have to win the two of them, but if we can get four points it would be massive."
Hunt has seen at close hand how effective skipper Robbie Keane can be, and never more so than in Skopje when, despite struggling with a groin injury, he took his international goals tally to 51 with a match-winning double.
His eighth-minute opener instantly defused the hugely partisan atmosphere at the Philip II Stadium and helped to lay the foundation for a victory fashioned very much in the style of pragmatic boss Giovanni Trapattoni.
Hunt said: "The first goal got the crowd on their backs, and then the second one was gifted on a plate to him (Keane), so it was nice.
"He could have got the hat-trick near the end, but we will take two and the win.
"To be honest, the second half was a bit ugly, but we wanted to make it ugly if we could because what's the point of opening ourselves up and being caught on the break?
"It was a good 'Trapattoni' performance, I suppose."
Hunt will hope for more action in Tuesday night's friendly clash with Italy in Belgium before heading off to enjoy his summer break.
He said: "I am buzzing. I have had three horrible summers and this summer, I can enjoy it on the back of a good win. We can take it easy and go into Italy and enjoy it."