Republic of Ireland's Shane Long ruled out against Wales with injury

Wales, Ireland in winner-takes-all duel

Ireland's preparations for tonight's crucial World Cup qualifier has suffered a huge blow after it emerged that Shane Long has been ruled out of the tie.

They're facing each other at the City Stadium in Cardiff - and it's a big match for both teams.

If Group D table-toppers Serbia, who host Georgia this evening, lose for the second consecutive game, whoever wins the crunch clash between Wales and Ireland will secure an automatic spot in next year's footballing showpiece in Russian Federation.

What are the premutations for tonight's game we hear you ask.Here's a quick reference quide of what each team needs to do to secure a play-off place with automatic qualification still a slim possibility should Gerogia surprise Serbia in Belgrade.with a win. Warren Gatland's side could clinch a spot in the 2018 FIFA World Cup Final in Russian Federation with a victory or a draw, depending on how Serbia fares.

Friday night's 2-0 win over Moldova at the Aviva Stadium, coupled with Wales' 1-0 victory in Georgia and leaders Serbia's 3-2 defeat in Austria left Group D intriguingly poised.

North End have three players involved in tonight's World Cup qualifer between Wales and Republic of Ireland. Martin O'Neill said in the build up that we need to be clinical in front of goal when the chances came.

Randolph was having his best game for Ireland as he coolly caught every cross that was whipped in as the Ireland back line dropped deeper and deeper.

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It's nearly the tenth anniversary of Ireland's last competitive game against Wales in Cardiff.

"We have to try and contain our excitement because we've always wanted to be in these games where everything is on it". I want to score goals for my country but I'll keep believing and it will come.

Prijovic struck the victor on 74 minutes in Belgrade as Serbia finished top of European qualifying Group D.

JAMES MCCLEAN proved the man for the big occasion once again as Ireland won their Celtic play-off to set up a World Cup play-off.

Manager King said: "We go into the game full of confidence".

If both Wales and Croatia draw, then the two will be level on points and goal difference, with number of goals scored deciding which of them progresses. The most important is to win the game.

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