Midfielder Lee Carsley is relishing his second coming with the Republic of Ireland squad.

The Everton star spent two and a half years in retirement after deciding to focus on club football and his family prior to returning at a critical time for his country.

The call-up arrived after a 5-2 Euro 2008 qualifying humiliation in Cyprus at the start of October, and then it was in contentious circumstances.

After contacting boss Steve Staunton to let him know he wished to be considered for international football again, he was overlooked for that game and the one that followed with the Czech Republic.

But in the wake of the nightmare in Nicosia, Staunton performed a shock u-turn and drafted in Carsley 48 hours ahead of the pivotal clash with the Czechs.

The 32-year-old played a key role in the 1-1 draw, ensuring he was again involved for the 5-0 defeat of San Marino in early November.

He will bolster the midfield against San Marino tomorrow in the Serravalle Stadium as Ireland look to strengthen their hand in Group D.

'The most important thing is I'm playing well for Everton because if I'm doing that then I've a chance of playing for Ireland,' said Carsley.

'At the moment it's going well at Everton. We've put together a few good results lately and we're doing well in the league. But I'm certainly relishing being back in the squad. I'm very enthusiastic.

'After being away for two and a half years, I'm glad to be back.'

Carsley is expecting a different approach from San Marino compared to the negativity they displayed at Lansdowne Road.

That was unsurprising as they had already suffered 13-0 and 7-0 defeats to Germany and the Czech Republic respectively earlier in the campaign.

Despite the fact the minnows have lost all 37 of their previous European Championship qualifiers, conceding 168 goals into the bargain, Carsley added: 'It will be different this time away from home.

'I would expect them to attack more than they did at Lansdowne Road. There is going to be a lot more emphasis on them to come out and have a go.

'At Lansdowne Road they put everybody behind the ball which made it difficult for us to score, but once we got the first goal it opened them up more.

'It relaxes the players when you get an early goal, so hopefully we can do so again.'

Carsley knows it is win or bust for Ireland, adding: 'If we don't beat San Marino then we don't deserve to qualify. So we're certainly not taking them lightly, but then we're not in a position to do that anyway.'

After losing Stephen Carr (thigh) and Jonathan Douglas (hamstring) yesterday, Staunton's preparations for the game were further hampered by a member of the ground crew at Dublin airport.

Remarkably, that person failed to release a pin that allows the undercarriage to be raised once the plane is in flight.

The problem was naturally first discovered once the aircraft was airborne, resulting in the Czech Airlines plane being forced to return to Dublin.

The exact nature of the technical matter was only diagnosed once the plane was back on the ground, much to the frustration of all the passengers, namely the squad, FAI officials, fans and media.

It meant a delayed arrival into Rimini by two and half hours, shortly before midnight local time.