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St Ledger: Ireland can grasp second-place nettle

Published: Friday 31 May 2013, 9.30CET
"It's all to play for," centre-back Sean St Ledger told UEFA.com as he pondered the Republic of Ireland's standing in Group C ahead of the visit of the Faroe Islands on 7 June.
by Wayne Harrison
from London
St Ledger: Ireland can grasp second-place nettle
Sean St Ledger (No5) and Aiden McGeady (No7) were encouraged by Ireland's display at Wembley ©Sportsfile

Published: Friday 31 May 2013, 9.30CET

St Ledger: Ireland can grasp second-place nettle

"It's all to play for," centre-back Sean St Ledger told UEFA.com as he pondered the Republic of Ireland's standing in Group C ahead of the visit of the Faroe Islands on 7 June.

A second-place finish in FIFA World Cup qualifying Group C, and with it a potential play-off berth, is "there for the taking" for the Republic of Ireland according to defender Sean St Ledger.

Assuming Germany are out of reach in the six-team section, Giovanni Trapattoni's men are vying with Austria and Sweden, with whom they are level on points, for the runners-up spot.

All three sides return to competitive action on 7 June, when the Faroe Islands visit Dublin. With Sweden hosting Austria on the same night, before playing the Faroes four days later, the 28-year-old knows victory next Friday could put Ireland in a promising position ahead of their home encounter with the Blågult in September.

"It's all to play for – realistically we're playing for second place alongside Sweden and Austria," St Ledger told UEFA.com. "Sweden are much like us: they're very organised and obviously they've got [Zlatan] Ibrahimović, who can create, but we're confident we can beat them at home, so second position is there for the taking."

Ireland's qualification prognosis would have been considerably brighter but for David Alaba's 93rd-minute equaliser for Austria in the last round of internationals. "We got a good draw [0-0] against Sweden, but we should have beaten Austria, which puts a question mark on the final few games," said winger Aiden McGeady.

"It wasn't to be, so we'll see what happens in the Faroe Islands match. You know what it's like when you're playing a 'smaller' country – it's always difficult, a potential banana skin."

St Ledger – who scored Ireland's solitary goal at UEFA EURO 2012 – and McGeady started the 1-1 draw with England on Wednesday. The result, which stretched Ireland's unbeaten run to four this year, offered a number of positives going into Sunday's friendly against Georgia and, crucially, next month's qualifier.

"It was a really good warm-up game, they're a very good side with players from top Premier League teams," said Leicester City FC centre-back St Ledger. "The most important thing for us is the Faroe Islands game, where we know we have to get three points and, if we can, increase our goal difference."

For McGeady, replaced midway through the second half, the fixture at Wembley was the FC Spartak Moskva schemer's first outing for his country since the 4-1 triumph in the Faroe Islands on 12 October.

"We can take a lot of confidence from the way we played against one of the top teams in the world," said the former Celtic FC player, who has been troubled by an ankle injury since that win in Torshavn. "We defended pretty well and also threatened going forward, which is encouraging for us."

Last updated: 31/05/13 17.27CET

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