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Defender Heather Payne says it is back to business as usual for the Republic of Ireland after a dramatic Friday night that saw their behind-closed-doors friendly with Colombia aborted and midfielder Denise O’Sullivan taken to hospital with a suspected shin injury.

The World Cup warm-up in Brisbane was abandoned after 20 minutes due to what the Football Association of Ireland (FAI) would later explain in a statement was as a result of it becoming “overly physical”.

Initial scans revealed O’Sullivan had not sustained any fractures, with an update expected during Monday afternoon’s training session – just three sleeps away from the Girls in Green’s World Cup debut against Australia on Thursday night.

While they will be hoping for more encouraging news about their team-mate, Payne insisted the team have otherwise put the tumultuous events behind them, saying: “It’s a new week as well, and I think everyone is just… our main focus here is the World Cup and we’re all really focused on that game on Thursday.

“It’s Monday now, it’s a new week, the game is just a few days away. Honestly, we’re all good. We had a recovery day and a day off and it was nice. We’ve been together for so long now, it’s nearly five weeks, so it’s nice to get out and about and do your own thing. But yeah, I think everyone is just focused on the upcoming game.”

Players enjoyed a rest day on Sunday, with some heading to the beach and others meeting koalas at a sanctuary nearby their Brisbane base.

The Republic have been handed the intimidating task of opening their maiden World Cup in front of more than 80,000 fans at Sydney’s Stadium Australia, where the majority will be cheering for co-hosts the Matildas, 12 places above Payne’s number 22 side in FIFA’s global rankings.

It does not get any easier for the only Group B nation to never have featured in the global showpiece, with Olympic champions Canada – the Republic’s highest-ranked group rivals in seventh – in Perth to follow, then a first-ever meeting with Nigeria in Brisbane to conclude the group stage.

In May, 23-year-old Ballinasloe native Payne graduated from the University of Florida, where she played for the Division One Seminoles. She stayed in the States for a month, both to train and close that particular chapter of her career, before joining up with her Republic team-mates.

She said: “I was able to enjoy my last time there and take it all in, but since I’ve been home we’ve had camp and then I was able to just kind of fully switch over to this mode.

“I think over the past couple of weeks I’ve kind of been focusing on both (the World Cup and next steps) a bit, but now that I’ve gotten here my full focus is on the World Cup. This is a huge, huge tournament and our first, so I just want to be fully focused on that.”

At some point soon, Payne will inevitably appear in one of those pen-in-hand promotional photos, wearing the colours of whichever club she chooses to call her next home.

Payne (left) has set aside thoughts about her next steps to focus on the World Cup (Brian Lawless/PA
Payne (left) has set aside thoughts about her next steps to focus on the World Cup (Brian Lawless/PA)

For now, however, green is the only shade that matters.

Payne added: “Wearing that shirt means everything. I think now more than ever, I think since we see the Irish support and we see that the whole country is behind us, I think it’s meaning quite a lot now more than ever.

“It’s absolutely brilliant. I think when we’re out there on Thursday in front of 80,000 people and then knowing everyone at home is also watching, I think we’re all going to be super proud.”

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