Robbie Keane believes the Republic of Ireland’s 0-0 draw with Sweden on Friday has hugely boosted the team's confidence.
The Boys in Green sit below third-placed Austria, who they meet on Tuesday, on goal difference alone and Keane believes they can now head into that tie with renewed belief.
“We can take a lot of credit from this game,” the former Tottenham man told reporters.
“We had an inexperienced team compared to Sweden, who had senior players who have been around for a long time.
“I felt quite comfortable. They certainly didn’t deserve to win because overall I felt we were the better team.”
The veteran striker is now just two appearances short of Shay Given’s record of 125 caps, having already secured his place as his country’s most prolific goalscorer.
Keane lauded his team for their persistence and work-rate, particularly in midfield, and reserved special praise for Wigan Athletic’s James McCarthy.
He added: "James McCarthy was great. I thought he was the one pushing on, running up against them. He stopped them from playing.
“You can’t praise our midfielders enough. We addressed before the game how to play with the extra man, with me coming back with James and Greeny [Paul Green], and how to make it difficult for them. We certainly did that.”