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Hughton's Irish diary

Posted on 11 June 2003  - 12:00

Tottenham Hotspur (Spurs) Football Club is located in North London. The club is also known as Spurs. Tottenham's home ground is White Hart Lane. The club motto is Audere est Facere (To dare is to do).

In a special diary feature, our first team coach and Ireland's assistant boss Chris Hughton gives us the inside view into international week in the Irish camp.

Capped 53 times by Ireland, Chris is preparing the squad - including Stephen Carr and Robbie Keane - for Wednesday's crucial Euro 2004 qualifier Georgia having beaten Albania on Saturday.

Speaking last night from Dublin, he now talks us through Tuesday's final preparations and takes a special look at the Spurs connection in the camp...

TUESDAY, very much like last Friday before the Albania match, was about tactics and tactical awareness before we play Georgia.

It was a fairly light session, a bit of a game and basically the exercise is to keep the lads ticking over.

The mood in the camp is buoyant, determined and we're all looking forward to taking on Georgia. It's another very important game because, as I said yesterday, you really have to look to win your home games.

I took my turn in front of the cameras and the press on Monday and you might have seen the pictures back home on Tuesday. It's quite a lot for the manager to have to do on his own so on occasions I'll do it, perhaps with one or two of the players. I don't mind doing it but it's a situation where we move it around a bit.

We do the press every day when we're on international duty. It's a massive game here and if you are in England, you have to compare it to an England international. It's the same here.

There is a wonderful passion for the game here and the expectation level is higher now because in terms of qualification we've done better over the years.

It's the same now. Even though we lost the first two games in the group, now we've got ourselves back in contention and the supporters believe we'll make it to the finals. It will be tough - there are three very hard games to go.

Gary Doherty also did a bit with the press boys and suggested that he'd like to concentrate on playing in defence at Spurs, although he's happy to play up front for Ireland.

I can understand Gary's feelings and why he's saying what he's saying. He's assessing the situation, looking at it and thinking 'where do I have the best opportunities to play?' At Tottenham he probably feels more comfortable in a defensive position but of course with Ireland, with what we've got in defence, he's thought if he's going to play then he's got a stronger chance to play up front. What he wants to do, as with all players, is play and he's looking at the best opportunities to do that.

Robbie Keane scored his 15th international goal on Saturday and we're all sure he'll soon pass the record and it will then be about how many he goes on to score. If you look at the highest goalscorer at the moment it's Niall Quinn with 21 goals and at this stage, Robbie's not that far away. He's very well thought of back here in Dublin and loves playing for his country. The World Cup did wonders for Robbie and it was just a shame Stephen Carr wasn't there as well.

In a couple of interviews here, because he's such a good professional and sets such high standards, Stephen looked at last season, admitted his form was up and down and at times he wasn't happy with his fitness levels. The simple fact is that's understandable. He'd been out for a year and in a footballer's life that's an awful long time and it takes time to get back to the sharpness he had. There have been lots of occasions where he has showed that sharpness though and it's all about the ups and downs of a season. Carry's just harder on himself because of what he'd been through.

He's been through a lot and I think he's at a stage now where every time he pulls on that green shirt it almost feels like it's payback time. He missed the big one last summer and he values playing for his country even more now.

If I look at him at the moment he played very, very well on Saturday, looked sharp and hopefully he'll take that into the Georgia game.