European Qualifiers: Seamus Coleman desperate to play in major tournament finals for Republic of Ireland
Last Updated: 05/09/14 6:58pm
Seamus Coleman is desperate to play in a major tournament finals for the Republic of Ireland and believes all the right ingredients are in place ahead of the European Qualifiers.
The 25-year-old Everton full-back is likely to start the Republic's opening qualifier in Georgia on Sunday, new manager Martin O'Neill's first competitive game after 10 months at the helm.
Coleman has established himself as a regular in the team in the wake of an unsuccessful Euro 2012 finals campaign which prompted then boss Giovanni Trapattoni to quit his post after only having the defender on stand-by.
"I was watching the games and I really enjoyed it, but you just want to be part of it," said the former Sligo Rovers player.
"Obviously I didn't play in the last European Championship, so I am definitely hungry to be part of that. That's what you want as an international player, to be on the biggest stage."
Ireland warmed up for their potentially testing trip to Tbilisi with a low-key 2-0 victory over a limited Oman side at the Aviva Stadium on Wednesday evening in which O'Neill rested most of his big guns, Coleman included.
But the stakes will be very much higher on Sunday evening when the Republic attempt to launch their bid for qualification with victory over the Georgians just as they did six years ago, although in controversial circumstances.
That game, also Trapattoni's first competitive encounter, was played in Mainz, Germany rather than Tbilisi after the Football Association of Ireland expressed its misgivings over the prevailing political situation in Georgia at the time, a stance which still rankles with the former Soviet state.
Goals from Kevin Doyle and Glenn Whelan secured a 2-1 victory - indeed, the Irish have won all five of their encounters with Georgia to date.
Coleman said: "It's been a long build-up - I think the manager has said the same thing since he came in. It's his first competitive game now, but we are all looking forward to it and we are well prepared.
"It's going to be a difficult game. We have seen a couple of clips and a couple of teams who went there, France and Spain haven't found it too easy, so it's going to be difficult.
"We will be set up well. As I said, we are all looking forward to it and hopefully we can come out of there with three points."
Given the recent history between the two nations, the reception at the Boris Paichadze Dinamo Arena is likely to be hostile, although Coleman insists that will not affect him or his team-mates.
He said: "On a personal level, I am not scared to go out there - I am looking forward to it. We know it is going to be difficult, but we have got a lot of good players, a lot of experienced players in our squad and it's time for us to kick on now."
Republic of Ireland goalkeeper Kieren Westwood, meanwhile, was sent home from their training camp just outside Dublin after coming down with tonsilitus
The Sheffield Wednesday No 1 had been in isolation for the last 48 hours but has now been sent home and did not travel to Georgia. Celtic striker Anthony Stokes also missed the flight east due to injury.
Aston Villa's Shay Given could now start in goal for the Republic in what would be his first competitive match since retiring two years ago.
Watch Georgia v Republic of Ireland live on Sky Sports 5HD from 4pm (kick-off 5pm) on Sunday.