Republic of Ireland goalkeeper Shay Given says that victory over Russia will give his team a huge advantage in the race for top spot in Group B.
Following Russia’s defeat to Slovakia the Manchester City keeper knows that another loss will leave the Sbornaya with a mountain to climb
“There is an opportunity there now. Obviously they lost last month and it’ll give us a lot of daylight if we can get three points,” Given told reporters in Dublin ahead of the match.
The Boys in Green won their opening two games but now face a tougher challenge in the next week.
He said: “It’s a different level. These two games will probably prove where we are as a team and ultimately if we’re going to qualify for the European Championships. Two massive games, obviously we’re focusing on Russia.”
The 34-year-old, who made his debut against Russia 14 years ago, was also asked if he would settle for a draw on Friday.
“Ideally, we’re at home, we want to win. But we must not lose as well so I don’t know, it’s a good question. We want to win the game but we know Russia have got some great players as well and it’s going to be one of the most difficult games in the group.”
It will be the first major competitive match for the Republic in the new Lansdowne Road stadium and Given expects the crowd to play their part in the occasion.
“I think the fans will have a big part to play on Friday night as well. Hopefully they can get the volume cranked up to the max at Lansdowne Road and they’ll have a big, big part to play,” he added.