Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Lawrence looking for maximum points

Irish winger Liam Lawrence is focusing on another six point haul as Ireland face a pivotal week in their Euro 2012 qualifying group.

Ireland launched their Group campaign with victories over Armenia and Andorra last month, but will take a significant step-up in class over the next few days when they meet Russia and Slovakia, who are first and second seeded teams in Ireland's Group.

Dick Advocaat’s Russia side arrive in Dublin for Friday night’s clash at Lansdowne Road still angry after their 1-0 defeat at the hands of the Slovakians in Moscow, and a positive result for Giovanni Trapattoni’s men would send them to Zilina next Tuesday knowing they could strike a significant blow in the race for qualification.

Lawrence for one believes all six points are there for the taking.

The 27-year-old Portsmouth midfielder said: “I think we can give anyone a game and we can beat anybody, and I do think that six points is within our reach.

“They are two massive games, especially on Friday. It’s going to be a really tough game, but we have come through these tough games in the past and we have got to again.

“They will be stung a little bit and they will be hurting from that defeat.

“I am not sure they will be looking forward to coming here, so hopefully we can catch them again and we can get the win.”

Speaking about Ireland's resolve Lawrence said: “That will be put to the test on Friday because they are one of the biggest sides in the world and they have got some fantastic players.

“But it is going to be up to us, it’s on our turf and hopefully we will give them a good game.

“We have learnt from those games in the past and hopefully it will stand us in good stead for Friday because we are going to have to call upon all our experience and everything we have got for these two games.”

Lawrence started both games last month despite heading away on international duty with his move from Stoke to Portsmouth still up in the air, and is in line to win his 11th senior cap against Russia.

That could bring him into direct conflict with Arsenal’s Andrey Arshavin as he attempts to provide support for full-back John O’Shea.

Asked how he will deal with the hugely-talented Russian, he said with a smile: “I will just leave him to Josh – that’s his job.

“He is a fantastic player, he is brilliant. He does it week in, week out and we will certainly have to watch him.

“We will have to double up all over the pitch – but that’s when we are at our best, when we are pressing teams and getting at them and hunting them down.”

At club level, Lawrence is simply happy to be back playing regular 1st team football, even if it is in the Championship, after finding himself surplus to requirements at the Britannia Stadium, and is confident that will benefit him in his international career.

He said: “I had to leave Stoke to play regular football, and I feel now I am getting back to the player I was 18 months or a year ago.

“I know you say it’s a lesser league, but I just need to be playing regularly and I will be better when I come to these games now.”

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