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Martin O'Neill waiting to see who can handle the heat of Georgia battle

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Robbie Keane goes through his paces in Malahide before flying out for Georgia with the Ireland team. Photo: Paul Mohan / SPORTSFILE

Robbie Keane goes through his paces in Malahide before flying out for Georgia with the Ireland team. Photo: Paul Mohan / SPORTSFILE

SPORTSFILE

Robbie Keane goes through his paces in Malahide before flying out for Georgia with the Ireland team. Photo: Paul Mohan / SPORTSFILE

Martin O'Neill will assess the conditions in Georgia this evening before deciding whether it changes his plans for tomorrow's opening Euro 2016 qualifier in Tbilisi.

The Ireland manager admitted that warm temperatures could alter his side's approach and, by extension, affect his thinking as regards personnel.

It is expected to be 25 degrees at kick-off in the Boris Paichadze Stadium and that might affect the visitors' tempo.

O'Neill must decide between Shane Long, Robbie Keane and Wes Hoolahan as he measures his attacking options.

"I've never been to Georgia before," said the Irish boss of the team flight yesterday. "But if it's going to be as hot as they say it is then you might have to make obvious adjustments.

"All of these things will bear some consideration and it's a matter of choosing your substitutes carefully."

O'Neill has brought a 23-man squad with Anthony Stokes dropped and Keiren Westwood missing out with tonsillitis. The 62-year-old must choose between the returning Shay Given and David Forde for the No 1 spot.

With two teams going through automatically, O'Neill has predicted a 'dogfight' in the likely race for runner-up behind hot favourites Germany.

"It will be a long war," he declared ahead of his competitive bow in this job.

Irish Independent