Euro 2016 qualifier: Rep of Ireland face Scotland in vital Dublin clash
Martin O’Neill will lead his Republic of Ireland side out at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin knowing that a defeat to Group D rivals Scotland could spell disaster in their search of Euro 2016 qualification, having already been toppled by Gordon Strachan’s men in Glasgow.
The hosts will hope their home advantage can play a pivotal role in this crucial clash against the Scots, as Ireland currently trail third-placed Scotland by two points, while Poland lead the group ahead of world champions Germany who are comfortably in automatic qualifying positions.
O’Neill’s Boys in Green are 13/10 with Coral to secure victory on home turf, having recently played out a goalless draw with England at the Aviva, while Scotland are 12/5 to do the double over their close Celtic rivals after the 1-0 reverse fixture triumph at Hampden Park.
Ireland boss O’Neill has warned Strachan that his real squad will turn up for this vital encounter, as they aim to deliver Dublin delight for the home fans, after a host of star names returned from previous troublesome knocks.
“We feel as if we’re a stronger squad, because of it (injury returns) those players have great experience and that’s important in a game like this,” stated the Derry-born boss.
“We want to play well under pressure, to throw the shackles off and play as strong as we can – if we can do that, we’ll win.”
Ireland have been lucky to have survived many scares so far in qualifying, with several last-minute strikes form the likes of Shane Long, Aiden McGeady and John O’Shea along the way providing crucial points on the board.
“We’ve got to apply some pressure and we’ve got to try get on the front foot early in the game and establish some sort of foothold,” continued O’Neill.
“If we could get ourselves going like we did against Poland and try get the first goal rather than chasing things. That will give ourselves a chance.”
James McCarthy, Glen Whelan, Marc Wilson and Wes Hoolahan all missed the previous loss to the Scots, but return to action this time out, while Robbie Keane also makes a comeback to the squad after missing the England meeting.
Although, Keane may not feature following a family bereavement, while Paul McShane and Harry Arter are both doubts for the hosts, but Scotland have Charlie Mulgrew back to full fitness and could accompany captain Scott Brown in midfield.
Keane has recently penned a new deal with MLS franchise LA Galaxy and is 6/1 to open proceedings in his home county, if he does feel in a suitable state to play, while other key threat Long is 7/4 to strike anytime against the Scots.
For the visitors, Leigh Griffiths will undoubtedly pose an attacking danger, and the Celtic frontman is 2/1 to get on the scoresheet anytime, with reverse fixture hero Shaun Maloney 10/1 to strike last in Dublin.