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Given reunion leaves Ketsbaia torn

Georgia coach Temuri Ketsbaia admits he has mixed feelings as he prepares for his reunion with old friend Shay Given.

The 38-year-old goalkeeper and the mercurial midfielder were team-mates at Newcastle and have kept in touch since they went their separate ways.

However, they could meet again at close quarters in Tbilisi on Sunday evening with Given a candidate for the Ireland starting line-up after coming out of international retirement and Ketsbaia occupying the Georgia dug-out as the two nations attempt to launch their respective Euro 2016 Group D qualifying campaigns with a victory.

Republic boss Martin O'Neill declined to reveal whether or not Given or David Forde will start at the Boris Paichadze Dinamo Arena, and Ketsbaia insists he does not want to make up his mind for him.

Ketsbaia said: "I have known Shay for a long time now and our families are friends. I am glad to see him in Georgia - but I wouldn't be glad to see him play because he's really a very good goalkeeper.

"I don't want to make the decision for Martin O'Neill - he knows better than anybody else - but he (Given) is a really fantastic goalkeeper.

"He has been with several clubs in the Premier League and it's obviously good for the Irish national team to see him again.

"But I don't know. We will try to score a goal - we don't care who is going to stand between the goalposts."

Ketsbaia's experience of British football - he played for Wolves and Dundee as well as the Magpies in a four-year stay - has given him an insight into the way Ireland will play with many of O'Neill's men plying their trade in England.

He understands the challenge at hand, even if he is confident his players can cope with it.

He said: "We know the way the Irish team will play. Most of the players play in the Premier League and the Championship, so we know it is going to be a very hard and very tough game because all the players ate playing at that level.

"The Premier League is very tough, but the Championship is even more difficult. I also played in the Championship and it's so difficult to play.

"It's going to be hard and we have to fight. There are battles to be won and the team which wins the battles is going to win the game."

Ketsbaia said at the start of the last campaign he would use it to prepare his team for the current one.

But asked if he would adopt a more attacking approach this time around, the 46-year-old said: "It doesn't really matter how exactly you approach the games in terms of scoring more goals.

"The main thing would be to get a result, not to concede and not to lose the game.

"The team always takes to the pitch aiming to win the game - it's impossible to do otherwise.

"It's a very tight group where a lot of teams will be competing for the second and third spots. Competition will be very fierce, so not every game can be regarded as a must-win game.

"But every single game will be regarded as one than cannot be lost, in my opinion. The main aim of every game will be not to be beaten and and if it takes 10 0-0 draws for the Georgian team to qualify, then so be it."

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