Whelan: Bad patch is behind us, we want to come out on top
Glenn Whelan is hoping Ireland have had their sticky patch as they attempt to book their place at the Euro 2012 finals.
Giovanni Trapattoni's men claimed only a single point in October as they went down 3-2 to Russia at the Aviva Stadium and then drew 1-1 in Slovakia as skipper Robbie Keane missed a potentially match-winning penalty, but face the two Group B sides again in a double-header this weekend.
The three sides go into the latest round of fixtures level on 13 points and the one who emerges with the biggest haul next Tuesday night will be in pole position. Whelan said: "If you look at most international teams, you go through a tough patch or maybe a bad game or so in the group, but it's how you react, and we have reacted really well."
He added: "We can't worry about the two games. Let's worry about Slovakia on Friday first, hopefully get the right result and get that out of the way, and then worry about Russia.
"We know they are going to be two difficult games, but I am sure the Slovakians and the Russians know that too."
Ireland go into the Slovakia game brimming with confidence after taking maximum points from their home and away clashes with Macedonia.
Indeed, the trip to Skopje came in the middle of a five-game unbeaten run which has also seen them beat Northern Ireland, Scotland and Italy and draw with Croatia.
Whelan and his team-mates will feel they owe the Slovakians after returning from Zilina believing all three points were there for the taking.
However, they saw enough that night to know that the latest visitors to the Aviva Stadium will also have victory in their minds. Whelan said: "I am sure they will be coming to try to win the game, and we'll be doing the same ourselves.
"Hopefully it's an open game with a lot chances and hopefully we come out on top."