O'Neill urges Ireland players to think of crocked Everton star Coleman

It is up for grabs now.

Slovenia have successfully held Scotland to a 2-2 draw in Ljubljana's Stadion Stožice.

Victory for either team will guarantee them a play-off berth at their opponents' expense and could even yield an automatic qualifying spot if Group D leaders Serbia falter in their last game with Georgia.

Ireland head into Friday night's World Cup qualifier against Moldova knowing anything other than victory over the Group D basement boys could end their hopes of making it to Russian Federation next summer.

Long said: "With the Serbia result on Friday, Georgia could do us a favour there". A point may be okay, but we'll go for three points.

"I don't think now is the day to discuss it". They are playing at home, so they have an obvious advantage there. It's all to play for.

Coleman said: 'It's been great to have Baleo here, he was with us before Georgia, and he's at the hotel with the squad because he is a huge part of the team.

"We are still in there fighting but the Moldova game was always going to be a tough one for us". There is a bit of everything in it.

Wales are set to be without the serves of Bale for the upcoming clash due to a calf strain.

If Croatia/Ukraine score the same or less goals than Wales/Ireland, then Wales would make it.

"It's as big as anything we've been involved in", Coleman, who led Wales to the semifinals of Euro 2016, said at his prematch news conference. This victory and a positive outcome against Ireland on Monday 9 October will strengthen the Dragons chance of competing in October's playoff matches. We qualified for a competition and I think season tickets have gone from 4,000 to 16,000, so I think there is some evidence we are doing okay. "There's no secret, there's no difference to him".

His double gives O'Neill food for thought, though, as he welcomes back key men James McClean and Robbie Brady from suspension.

Wales have seven players just one booking away from missing the first-leg of the play-off if they are to get there. Ahead of the latest meeting between the two sides on Monday, The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at the encounter. "I don't think it will have a bearing", the Wales manager, Chris Coleman, said.

There simply aren't any other players available with his vision or ability to pick a defence apart with one incisive pass.

"It's not that far back in the memory that players shouldn't consider it when we're approaching this game". But for us it won't be a mention. But I would never count out Northern Ireland.

Ultimately, though, they delivered on their requirements and can go into this evening's match in Cardiff with a fair degree of optimism. "The Republic of Ireland is the future, that's what we're looking at". He takes a touch, and his shot is deflected to Long, and he has an open goal to shoot at that drifts just a few inches wide.

"It is now an event in Wales when the football teams plays".

Worldwide football might be fighting national apathy across the border in England - perhaps in part because of the failings of another "golden generation" - but has never been more enthusiastically followed in Wales.

  • Julie Sanders