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From Macdara Ferris in Cardiff
Updated 11:15 following news of Shane Long injury
While Scotland’s draw against Slovenia simplied Ireland’s permutations – a win over Wales is the only result that would lead to a playoff – it isn’t quite so simple for Chris Coleman’s men. Depending on Serbia's result, Wales can automatically qualify with a victory and maybe even a draw from Monday’s game in Cardiff City Stadium (kick off 7.45pm).
Should Wales win and Serbia lose at home to Georgia, then Coleman’s team will top the group. Indeed should Serbia lose by two, then a draw with Ireland will also do the Welsh. Second place can still earn them a playoff but they will have to look at results elsewhere, as they may still finish up ninth in the second place table and be the one team to miss out on a playoff.
Chris Coleman wasn’t mulling over in his mind the permutations when he spoke to the media on the eve of Monday’s game. “We can’t for one minute be thinking about the score in another game. You can’t do that in a game of this magnitude against a team like the Republic of Ireland. We have to take care of business. Do what we are good at. Concentrate on that.
“We have to get our mindset right and keep doing what we doing and that will give us a great chance of tomorrow night being a good night. There is no guarantee then. We want the players to enjoy the game as they have created this situation.”
The narrative ahead of the game was of ‘Bale Out’ and without their talismanic player a potential exit from the European Qualifiers for Coleman’s team. His manager certainly believes that Wales are more than just about one man.
“I heard it from someone who said we are ten men behind the ball and Bale up front. I think that is a lazy comment from someone. Even when he is in the team, we don’t play one way. We look at the opposition and we get a game plan and that changes depending on the opposition. We would much prefer to be playing with him.”
Wales managed to win without Bale on Friday night – the first time they had done that in four years. Chris Coleman expects Monday's game to be physical but that there will be no fall out from the injury to Seamus Coleman which occurred when the sides last met.
“It won’t have a bearing. It will be similar to Dublin when two sets of players lock horns. There will be lots of contact. It was a physical game out there (in Dublin) and that was unfortunate for Seamus. It was a horrible situation for him.
“He is on our way back but for us there won’t be a mention of that. I can’t tell how Ireland are looking or feeling. There is no talk about that and no talk of our performance in Georgia as that is done and in the past. It is all about the future.
“I’d be surprised if is a game in the Premier League where there is load of possession – it will be toe to toe, end to end. Both sets of players are quite similar. I don’t think it will be one of those fights where we will be jabbing one another. We will be going for it.”
Tom Lawrence was the match winner for Wales in Tbilisi and he is expected to start in Monday’s game. Wales will likely line out 4-4-1-1.
Wales (Probable): Wayne Hennessey, Christ Gunter, James Chester, Ashley Williams, Ben Davies, Joe Ledley, Joe Allen, Andy King, Aaron Ramsey, Tom Lawrence, Sam Vokes
For more from Chris Coleman, see http://www.extratime.ie/articles/19868/coleman-looking-to-knock-out-the-land-of-his-father/
REPUBLIC OF IRELAND
Ireland have made hard work of this campaign having got off to such a great start. The high point was a famous win away from home in Vienna and a similar result is required in Cardiff on Monday night if the Boys in Green are to make the playoffs.
A draw will do no good. Friday’s 2-0 win over Moldova brought some badly needed momentum back to the campaign – particularly after the sophoric performances in September when they could only draw away to Georgia and lose at home to Serbia.
Shane Long may well have dropped out of the starting line up after a performance on Friday that was typical of a player who hasn’t scored in 24 games but news emerged on match day that, despite training on Sunday, Long will miss the game due to injury.
Friday's formation with two up top and a diamond midfield is more likely to go to a 4-2-3-1 and it will be interesting to see if Wes Hoolahan stays in the team having played for 75 minutes in Dublin.
James McClean and Robbie Brady will come back in after serving a suspension. Callum O’Dowda who had an excellent game will likely also drop out of the team.
Daryl Murphy will now most likely stay up top. Murphy, along with James McClean, is top scorer for Ireland in this campaing with three goals.
“We have put ourselves in the position where we have to win the game,” said O’Neill speaking to the media on Sunday evening. “It is all to play for. Wales are in the same position.
“It doesn’t really bother me,” said O’Neill when asked if were Wales favourites. “We have to win the game. They are at home so there is an obvious advantage there.
“I said at the outset this would be the toughest group. Goergia were the top six seeds going. Coming into the final, there are three teams that can win the group. We can win the group and we can also not go through.”
While O’Neill talked up Georgia, he isn’t expecting them to do Ireland a favour and beat Serbia – which would allow Ireland to top the group with a win in Cardiff. “It will be tough for Georgia to win in Belgrade. It will be a tough ask.
"Friday night (against Moldova) became a big game for us because we had to win that game to make this game really worthwhile for us and after that I think it is exactly that feeling. Big nights that we have had in the past, and in the recent past, again that is fresh in the memory."
Also speaking at the pre-match press conference was Ireland goalkeeper Darren Randolph. Extratime.ie asked the Middlesbrough player about the importance of a clean sheet to give a platform to winning the game which is a must for Ireland.
“Clean sheets are always a help,” said Randolph. “However at the end of the day it is all about the three points, clean sheet or not.
For more from Martin O’Neill see http://www.extratime.ie/articles/19869/oneill-wants-determined-ireland-to-win-for-country-and-captain/
Republic of Ireland (probable): Darren Randolph, Cyrus Christie, Ciaran Clark, Shane Duffy, Stephen Ward; Jeff Hendrick, David Meyler; James McClean, Wes Hoolahan, Robbie Brady; Daryl Murphy.
Referee: Damir Skomina (Slovenia)
Before this campaign the sides have only met previously in competitive action in 2007. Ireland won the first fixture 1-0 with Stephen Ireland on the scoresheet, with the other game played in Cardiff ending in a 2-2 draw.
It is 25 years since Wales’ last win over Ireland. The Boys in Green have won three times, along with three draws, since Wales’ 1-0 win which took place in the RDS.
Wales haven’t scored in six of the seven meetings between the teams. The last three matches in Cardiff have all ended in draws.
Wales 13/10; Draw 21/10 ; Republic of Ireland 9/4.
Injured: Gareth Bale.
Republic of Ireland
Injured: James McCarthy, David McGoldrick, Jon Walters, Kieren Westwood.
extratime.ie will be covering the Group D clash between Wales and the Republic of Ireland live from Cardiff. Our reporter Macdara Ferris will be in the Cardiff City Stadium to take you through the match build-up, including both pre-match press conferences on Sunday, and the game itself on Monday evening.
Ireland being put their paces during the MD-1 training session with O'Neill and Keane watching on pic.twitter.com/eIyM9FDtok— Extratime.ie (@ExtratimeNews) October 8, 2017