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Stephen Ward focused on Georgia test as he blocks out qualification thoughts

Stephen Ward is not even contemplating the prospect of World Cup qualification as the Republic of Ireland attempt to edge a step closer to Russia.

Ireland will run out against Georgia at the Boris Paichadze Dinamo Arena in Tbilisi on Saturday evening knowing victory would keep them firmly in the running for one of the top two spots in Group D and the chance of playing on the biggest stage of all for the first time since 2002.

However, with four games currently remaining before the group reaches its conclusion, Burnley full-back Ward is not allowing himself to become excited at what could lie ahead.

The 32-year-old said: "Not at all, you put it all to one side. At the end of the day, we've worked very hard to get into this position at the minute, but a lot can change.

"There are still four teams in there who will feel that they've got a good chance of qualifying, so any slip-up from us will give teams a chance to capitalise.

"All we can do is concentrate on our own job and look towards Saturday."

The Republic booked their trip to the Euro 2016 finals having mounted a concerted late run to edge past Scotland into the play-offs, but this time find themselves locked together with group leaders Serbia four points ahead of the chasing pack with six games played.

Martin O'Neill and his players know only too well what can happen in the latter stages of a qualifying campaign and are taking nothing for granted.

However, Ward admits he would rather be where they are now than where they were as the European campaign approached its climax.

He said: "We'd prefer to be in this position than chasing behind. We have got the points on the board at the minute.

"Obviously ourselves and Serbia have a little cushion over Wales and Austria, but we know that can change with one result and a lot of the teams still have to go and play each other, so there's still a lot to play for.

"We need to keep doing what we're doing, play with that confidence that we've been playing with and go into Saturday only concentrating on the 90 minutes ahead.

"It is a hostile environment but as a player, you just try to switch off. You try once you cross that white line to just blank that out of your mind and concentrate on what's going on in the pitch."

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