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O'Neill urges Irish midfield to start firing

By Daniel McDonnell

Martin O'Neill has called on his midfielders to improve their goal return to aid the Republic of Ireland's World Cup prospects.

The Ulsterman wants an extra contribution from that department to compensate for difficulties in the striking ranks.

Robbie Keane's retirement has left a void while Shane Long and Jonathan Walters head into tonight's World Cup qualifier with Georgia in Dublin waiting to get off the mark for the season.

"If you look at any reasonably successful team, they have a goalscoring midfielder," said O'Neill. "We don't score a lot of goals and that's not just now. It's over a long period of time.

"Our best scorer has retired so someone has to take that mantle and if it's not a centre forward then maybe a midfielder."

James McCarthy is available after coming through a full training session although O'Neill indicated that he will be assessed today as the Republic look to build on their opening draw in Serbia.

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