Diane Caldwell says preparations have gone well as the Republic of Ireland focus in on Monday's crucial World Cup 2023 Group A qualifier against Georgia.

The reverse fixture at Tallaght last November saw Ireland record their biggest ever win, with Caldwell getting in on the scoring in an 11-0 stroll.

Temperatures are expected to reach the high 20s in Gori where a victory would move the Girls in Green into second place in the table.

The squad have been preparing in Turkey in order to acclimatise to the heat, and they beat the Philippines, who have already qualified for the World Cup, there in a friendly on Sunday.

"I always find the first session is the hardest and then you'll gradually see your body start to adapt to those demands of the heat," said Caldwell.

"You just have to be really well prepared. The doctor and the physio team have really prepared us well for this camp.

"They've made us aware of how vital our fluids are, particularly in this heat. We have various protocols in place to help us deal with those temperatures.

"It's been great to be here in Turkey, where temperates are actually higher than they would be in Georgia so I think everyone will be well prepared.

"We've had a lot of sessions under the intensity of that heat and a few of us have experienced playing in that heat before with our clubs so that will also stand to us."

Indeed, Caldwell played in the United States with North Carolina Courage, until they elected not to give her a new contract before Christmas.

It left the Dubliner on the lookout for somewhere to ply her trade, but she could't have asked for a better spot as her childhood club Manchester United signed her.

"It was everything I'd hoped it would be and more," says the 33-year-old, who isn't certain where she'll be next season.

"As a life-long fan that was my dream, to play for United and wear that jersey. To be honest I never thought it was going to be possible, especially how they didn't have a women's team until recently.

"I can't even put it into words how it felt. It was an amazing achievement for me personally, and one I took a lot of pride and honour in."

Last June the headlines were all about an Ireland team that had faced its seventh defeat in a row after losing to Iceland in Reykjavík.

With Savannah McCarthy injured Caldwell is in line for a start on Monday

Twelve months on and they know seven points from their remaining three qualifiers will see them claim second place and the play-off spot that comes with it.

"The defeats hurt but you just have to trust the process," Caldwell said when asked about that period in manager Vera Pauw's reign.

"You know you're on the right path, and competing against the best teams at that level. It's not going to come easily, or overnight.

"It's a work in progress. You just have to take it game by game and try to keep focused on the tasks and keep improving as a group.

"It's not easy when you're experiencing losses. It's just about maintaining our drive and our long-term vision.

"The group winners spot is gone in this particular campaign but the possibility to still qualify is there. It's the next three games that are going to determine if we get to that play-off spot.

"We have to take every games as it comes and be 100% focused on each one. The next one is always the most important and that's Georgia."

This campaign has seen Caldwell fall down the pecking order somewhat with Savannah McCarthy tending to be the first choice in the centre of defence alongside Niamh Fahey and Louise Quinn, although her absence for the draw against group winners Sweden in April was due to a thigh injury.

It's McCarthy's turn to miss out this time with a knock, and Caldwell played in the victory over the Philippines.

But it was the performance in Gothenburg against the Swedes that really impressed the defender.

"The team really showed what we're capable of," she said of the of the draw with the side who finished third at the last World Cup.

"[It was] a terrific result against a team that have now qualified for the World Cup automatically - No 2 in the world.

"Generally as a team though we know we've another level to reach."

Watch Georgia v Republic of Ireland live on Monday 27 June on RTÉ2 and RTÉ Player from 5pm, listen to radio commentary on RTÉ Radio 1 Extra, or follow via our live blog on rte.ie/sport or on the RTÉ News app

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