Sean St Ledger has warned France's superstars they are in for a battle if they are to squeeze past the Republic of Ireland into next summer's World Cup finals.
The 24-year-old Middlesbrough defender, whose 87th-minute header very nearly claimed the scalp of reigning champions Italy earlier this month, saw his side handed a tough play-off tie against the 1998 winners in Monday's draw.
St Ledger said: "Of course, France are the favourites and I'm sure they will expect to win. But the Italy game gives us a lot of belief that we can do well against a really top side."
He added: "It's a tough draw and probably not one we would have chosen.
"They have a team full of stars and some of the world's best players - but they finished second in their group for a reason.
"I'm sure there will be a great atmosphere in both legs, but the support we will get at Croke Park will be brilliant and the noise our fans make will be invaluable.
"They should be two unbelievable games to play in.
"As a nation and as a team, we always seem to rise to the occasion, so we can go into both legs with confidence.
"We are very organised under Mr Trapattoni and we will have a game plan to beat them."
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