Martin O'Neill demands total Republic focus in Poland game

Republic of Ireland manager Martin O'Neill
Martin O'Neill's Republic side were beaten by Scotland in their last qualifier in November

Euro 2016 qualifier: Republic of Ireland v Poland

Venue:
Aviva Stadium, Dublin
Date:
Sunday, 29 March
Kick-off:
19:45 BST
Coverage:
Score updates on BBC Five Live and BBC Sport website

Republic of Ireland boss Martin O'Neill has demanded total commitment from his players in Sunday's vital Euro 2016 qualifier against Poland in Dublin.

Despite the away defeat by Scotland in November, O'Neill has always believed his team's qualification fate will be decided by their home form.

"We have given ourselves a chance by winning in Georgia and getting a point in Germany," said O'Neill on Saturday.

"The games here were always going to be important. We have to be ready."

The Poles head for the Aviva Stadium on Sunday night sitting at the top of Group D, three points clear of the chasing pack with the Irish, Germany and Scotland locked together on seven points.

"What we have to do is look at where we are at the moment," added O'Neill.

James McCarthy and Poland's Robert Lewandowski during the 2013 friendly
James McCarthy and Robert Lewandowski will both be in action in Dublin

"When the draw was made and the games were set out, that was the first thing I looked at - that of the first four games, three were away from home.

"We could have been out of the competition before we were ever in it.

"The games here were always going to be important. Now they have come around, so we are ready for them, we hope. We have to be ready for them."

Such is the competition for the top two spots in the group - third place would send the occupants into the play-off scramble - that either victory or defeat this weekend could go a long way towards shaping the Republic's destiny.

Indeed, O'Neill admits coming away empty-handed would be nigh on disastrous.

"If we were beaten tomorrow night, it would be a big dent in proceedings, as you would expect, so we have to try to win the game."

Bayern Munich striker Robert Lewandowski perhaps represents the biggest threat to Irish hopes of victory, although he is far from the only Polish danger man.

Ajax striker Arkadiusz Milik is also highly rated and is expected to partner Lewandowski in attack.

"Lewandowski is very, very important to them, but he is not the only player," added O'Neill.

"We have seen this in the group. They are not a one-man team."

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