AIDEN McGeady has revealed that he did not feel ready going into last night's crucial clash with Slovakia.
The Spartak Moscow winger admitted he had a "frustrating" night on the left wing at the Aviva Stadium where he believed he was "thrown in at the deep end".
The 25-year-old cut an often isolated figure before being withdrawn after 84 minutes for Stephen Hunt as Ireland were held to a disappointing draw.
And while he feels Ireland can get the win they need against Russia on Tuesday night, the Glasgow-born winger reckons second place in Group B is now the target for Giovanni Trapattoni's men.
"I felt frustrated. Not in terms of how the team is set up, but in terms of how I played myself," he said.
"I've not really played, I didn't feel match sharp. Everything that could have gone wrong, went wrong for me. That's just the way I felt tonight. I was probably thrown in at the deep end, but I'm never going to say 'no' to a starting place.
"It's another 90 minutes under my belt, because I haven't really played in three months."
The former Celtic man reckons Russia aren't the side they were when they won 3-2 in Dublin last year.
"Russia probably aren't the team everybody thinks they are. They have world-class players but, from what I gather back in Russia, they have a lot of critics and they don't seem to perform every game," he said.
"We have to win, I'd say so. Four points from the two games would overall be pleasing, but two points you wouldn't be happy.
"It's a must-win game. We're disappointed we didn't win in the dressing-room, we had a late flurry of chances and we couldn't take them. The group is still wide open with Russia ahead, but us and Slovakia probably fighting for second."
McGeady's midfield counterpart Keith Andrews believes Ireland can get a result in Moscow on Tuesday and urged his team-mates to get over last night's disappointment as quickly as possible.
"We know we can play better and we've proved in the past that we can go to tough places and get a result," he said.
"We can't get too down about tonight. We need to move on and concentrate on Tuesday. We had said four points would be a good haul from these two games, if we win on Tuesday we've got them."