Jamie Carr urges Ireland to grasp chance for World Cup spot
For Jamie Carr, this week’s World Cup qualifier in Cardiff has already proven a significant improvement on August’s European Championships.
The Irish goalkeeper is looking to make a big impact as Ireland take on Russia in their first game on Thursday (4pm) with only a win keeping alive their chances of reaching the World Cup in January 2023.
Advance and they will meet either Wales or Italy on Saturday for a winner-takes-all showdown for one of the two World Cup spots on offer this week.
“We’re headed in the right direction for sure,” Carr said.
“We have checked all the boxes before the tournament, made sure everything was covered and the lads are raring to go.
“We have learned a lot over the last year from the last qualifiers through the Euros this summer. We are ready to put right our shortcomings in the past and put a big performance in.”
Indeed, the team have all reported present and correct in the Welsh capital, something of a relief for the panel who were beset by close contact Covid cases for those Euros in Poland.
In the end, despite no positive tests, two of the named squad had to stay at home after close-contact pings while Carr and Luke Madeley ended up stuck in a Gniezno hotel room for 10 days, only venturing outdoors on their day of arrival and departure in Poland.
“Someone had entered the flight without a PCR test or vaccine; when they arrived in Poland, they tested positive,” the goalkeeper explained.
“Luke and I were the only ones who didn’t have our second vaccinations so we had to self-isolate for the full 10 days.”
Now it is time to finally put it all into practice with no margin for error in Cardiff. Wins today and Saturday bring a World Cup spot; anything else and that is off the table.
“It’s refreshing in a way to not have a group stage, straight knock-out, to focus the mind,” said Carr.
“You have to win at all costs and there’s no time to build into the tournament so we have to hit the ground running.”