James McClean will be hoping to extend his recent goal scoring form when the Republic of Ireland welcome Austria to the Aviva Stadium on Sunday for the sides’ crucial World Cup qualifier.
McLean scored the winner when the sides’ met in Vienna in their earlier Group C clash, and continued his rich vein of goal scoring form by grabbing Ireland’s third in the 3-1 win over Uruguay.
The West Bromwich Albion wide man also netted twice in the Republic’s 3-1 World Cup qualifying win over Moldova in Chisinau in October.
Having started Ireland’s 3-1 defeat to Mexico in New Jersey, McLean came off the bench against Uruguay, but needed just four minutes to make his mark as he ran onto Daryl Murphy’s through-ball before smashing it into the bottom right-hand corner.
It was a goal which provoked memories of his 48th minute winner against Austria in Vienna in November, and a repeat on Sunday wouldn’t go amiss.
Nice to score
McLean told RTÉ Sport: “It’s nice to score goals, hopefully I can get one again next Sunday if I’m playing. It’d be brilliant to score next Sunday, that’s the one that matters.”
The Republic and manager Martin O’Neill had come in for criticism following their defeat to Mexico, with Ireland having opted for an experimental 3-5-2 formation.
McLean, however, says the mood and confidence in the camp is good ahead of Sunday’s game, with the Republic level on points with group leaders Serbia, and four points clear of Austria.
“This game and the Mexico game they’re just about getting a bit of sharpness and match-time after the break, the big one is the next one and this win gives us a wee bit of confidence going into it,” he said.
Chomping at the bit
“You want everyone chomping at the bit ready to play. The confidence is always been good to be fair, we’ve got a great bunch of lads here to be fair and when everyone’s in everyone just buzzes off each other and it’s good.
“We know what we have to do on Sunday and we’re looking forward to it.
“Coming off the back of a game like that, you’re buoyed, you’re feeling well and you just want to go again straight away.
“We’ll prepare like the professionals we are, we’ll leave no stone unturned and we’re looking forward to it.”