Where are the new Roys in green?

Ireland players Cyrus Christie Rob Elliot Conor Hourihane Eunan O’Kane Kevin Long Callum O’Dowda Richard Keogh and Darren Randolph at training

For there to be good news for Ireland, it will require whichever team finishes second in Group H dropping points in the final two games. The reverse fixture nearly a year ago to the day finished 3-1 to the Boys in Green and with home advantage and realistic hopes of a play-off spot, there are few reasons to oppose O'Neill's men making the ideal start to this double header.

"We have to win the game on Friday and it's going to be a tough match", O'Neill added.

And it means that Bosnia (or Greece in the same group) and Sweden can take over Ireland and also leave them outside the seeded 8 where Wales now lie. Ireland are also suffering from a depleted front line in which their strikers are suffering a terrible run of goalscoring form.

Hogan is joined in attack by Shane Long, Daryl Murphy, David McGoldrick, Sean Maguire and Aiden O'Brien, with O'Neill opting to make Hogan one of three new attackers in the Ireland setup.

James McClean and Robbie Brady are both suspended and that's an issue but the Republic should have enough quality to secure a comfortable victory.




Meanwhile Kevin Doyle's recent retirement has left him unavailable for the clash. Wales now sit second so are in the play-off table, but they are last with just eight points.

What these results mean is that Ireland, Serbia and Wales occupy the same positions as they did coming into tonight's set of fixtures.

The FAI have confirmed that they have agreed a deal with Ireland manager Martin O'Neill to extend his contract up to 2020. They were setting a punishing pace at the top of the group and began to slow down only when they lost their captain and best player, Seamus Coleman, to a broken leg following Neil Taylor's tackle during the 0-0 home draw with Wales in March.

Martin O'Neill's men face Moldova at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin on Friday night, before taking on Wales in Cardiff next Monday. However, it will be tighter than people expect due to their lack of fire power up front.

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