Scotland v Republic of Ireland: Mark McGhee relishes key qualifier

Scotland beat Georgia 1-0 at Ibrox last month
Scotland have taken four points from their opening three matches in Group D
Scotland v Republic of Ireland
Venue: Celtic Park Date: Friday 14 November Kick-off: 19:45 GMT
Coverage: Live on BBC Radio Scotland & online; live text on BBC Sport website

Assistant manager Mark McGhee says Friday's match with the Republic of Ireland is "unquestionably" the biggest game of his time with Scotland.

The Republic visit Celtic Park level on points with Poland at the top of Group D in European Championship qualifying.

"In terms of our ambitions for qualifying, it's huge," said McGhee, who has been Gordon Strachan's number two since January 2013.

"This game will go a long way to deciding whether we do or don't."

Scotland and Germany are locked on four points after three matches - three points behind the Republic and Poland.

"When I was asked to do this job, this was the sort of occasion I was thinking of," added McGhee.

"I've seen Scotland playing the likes of France, Italy; and I always thought I'd love to be part of that.

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Republic of Ireland game is mouth-watering - McGhee

"The game is not decisive by any means. It's not a must-win but it would give either team a huge advantage relatively early."

With Strachan and opposite number Martin O'Neill drawing heavily from the English Premier League and Championship, McGhee said the rival squads are "almost a mirror image" of each other and is predicting a tight affair with a real edge.

"I think there will be a different tone to it than there would be against a continental team," he explained.

"We're going to the same places for our players and I think we'll be evenly-matched. I sat next to Martin at Brentford-Derby recently, we had four players involved and they had three.

"It's two groups of players that know each other and have a huge amount of respect for each other, the staff are also familiar with each other.

John O'Shea of the Republic of Ireland (left) celebrates scoring a stoppage time equaliser in Germany
The Republic of Ireland stunned Germany with a stoppage-time equaliser in Gelsenkirchen

"It has the makings of hugely competitive game but I think it will be played in absolutely the best spirit.

"These players are used to big occasions so I'm not too worried about that. We need to concentrate fully on the performance."

Ireland's last outing was a 1-1 draw away to Germany, with O'Neill's side also beating Georgia on their travels before thrashing Gibraltar.

"All we have achieved so far is the minimum of what's been expected," said McGhee following a loss in Germany, a win over Georgia at Ibrox and a 2-2 draw in Poland.

"Any less than that and we'd be worrying. Whereas Ireland have made a slightly better start, so we need to catch up.

"I'm not saying that makes them favourites. I'd like to think home advantage will count for something.

"We will have a huge support behind us and it couldn't be set up better for a fantastic game."

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