Win or bust tonight for Ireland in World Cup qualifier against Moldova

Win or bust tonight for Ireland in World Cup qualifier against Moldova

IRELAND go into tonight’s World Cup qualifying clash at home to Moldova knowing everything is on the line. 

A campaign that started so brightly with good results away to Serbia and Austria is threatening to unravel.

And Ireland boss Martin O’Neill faces the double handicap of having key players James McLean and Robbie Brady out due to suspension.

Jon Walters, out with a knee injury, will also be missing as the Ireland boss is forced to reshuffle the pack.

That throws up the chance for the likes of Bristol City’s Callum O’Dowda and Aston Villa’s Scott Hogan to stake a claim for a starting berth.

But for a team already stretched for resources, the absence of that trio could seriously hinder Ireland’s chances.

As it stands, even maximum points in this double header against the Molovans and Wales will still see O’Neill’s side relying on other results to secure automatic qualification.

But Ireland have been here before.

After losing away to Scotland and then drawing at home to Gordan Strachan’s men, the Tartan Army looked well placed to see off the Irish challenge.

Then the Germany game happened.

Shane Long turned the group on its head with a late winner against the World Champions and it was Ireland who ultimately went on to triumph via a play-off against Bosnia.

They have played this sort of high stakes poker before and won, and O’Neill will need Long and co to tap into a similar vein of form to keep Ireland’s qualification hopes alive.

Republic of Ireland v Moldova at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin, kick-off 7.45pm