Republic of Ireland midfielder Keith Andrews is warning Cyprus they will face a backlash as the sides renew World Cup battle on Saturday.
The Group Eight qualifier in Nicosia will be Ireland’s first chance to bounce back from last month’s 3-0 humbling by Australia at Thomond Park.
While that game was a friendly, manager Giovanni Trapattoni fielded a strong side and a rare defeat during his reign was not the ideal preparation for this weekend’s potentially crucial fixture.
Andrews, who was used only as a substitute against the Socceroos, said: “We are all hopeful that the Australia result was a wake-up call for us.
“The good thing is that it wasn’t a qualifying game, so we didn’t drop any points.
“I know it’s easy to make excuses due to the timing of the game, say that we weren’t match fit or fully sharp, it was only three days before the start of the season.
“The Australia performance wasn’t good enough, we are all aware of that, and we are itching to put it right on Saturday.”
Ireland head into the match just a point behind leaders Italy having played a game more, and five and eight points respectively better off than Bulgaria in third and fourth-placed Cyprus, who both have a game in hand.
However, victory in Nicosia would not only avenge their shock 5-2 European Championship qualifier defeat there three years ago, but also put them within touching distance of a play-off place at least.
That said, Andrews knows the Cypriots, who proved tough opponents at Croke Park in October when Robbie Keane’s goal sealed a narrow victory, will be even more dangerous on home soil despite the absence through suspension of key men Michael Konstantinou and Konstantinos Makridis.
He said: “They don’t have any stars, but they still have good players.”
Andrews is hoping to win his eighth cap at the weekend after making one of the central midfield berths his own in recent months.
However, the Blackburn midfielder knows he could soon face an even bigger fight for a place with club-mate Steven Reid on the comeback trail after a knee injury.
He said: “Steven’s problem now is not to do with the old injury he had, it’s just a niggle from scar tissue he had already at the back of his knee.
“It’s nothing too serious and he should be back in a couple of weeks.
“I get on very well with Reidy. He’s one of my best mates at the club. He’s been fantastic since I went there and went out of his way to make me feel welcome, so I have a lot of time for him.
“I would love to see him back for Ireland and for Blackburn.”