Where are the new Roys in green?

Jeff Hendrick celebrates scoring the winning goal for Burnley against Everton yesterday with his Ireland team-mate Stephen Ward

Jeff Hendrick celebrates scoring the winning goal for Burnley against Everton yesterday with his Ireland team-mate Stephen Ward

Martin O'Neill and Roy Keane.

Tonight there's a home game against Moldova tomorrow night (7.45pm), then it's Wales, in Cardiff, on Monday as The Boys in Green battle to secure second spot in Group D and a place at next year's tournament in Russian Federation.

Northern Ireland have secured at least second spot but look unlikely to topple Group C leaders Germany, who finish against Azerbaijan on the final matchday.

The absence of Jonathan Walters has been known for some time and if you're going to pick up a suspension - as Robbie Brady and James McClean have done - it's better to miss tonight's tie than Monday's monster clash in Cardiff's Millennium Stadium. Italy, trailing Spain in Group G, also look destined to be involved but Wales' world ranking should ensure they avoid them - and Portugal/Switzerland - in the seeded draw.

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Northern Ireland lost their home game to World Champions Germany, though their late goal in the 3-1 defeat may be key. Portugal are jousting with Switzerland for top spot in Group B, so one of them will drop down.

The FAI have a track record awarding managers with new contracts pre major tournaments, Mick McCarthy was handed a new two year contract prior to the 2002 World Cup, and famously Giovanni Trapattoni was handed a new deal prior to Ireland's disastrous showing at Euro 2012.

A rare brace for Daryl Murphy helped the Republic of Ireland to victory over Moldova and set-up a second-place battle against Wales in Cardiff.

They play Georgia away from home in their next match before hosting the Republic of Ireland in what is likely to be a direct playoff for second place, behind Serbia.

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Games remaining: October 6 v Moldova (h), October 9 v Wales (a). With the results against each groups bottom side being discounted, two wins from two would put Ireland on 13 points.

Ireland will get the vital three points at the Aviva Stadium which could set up a victor takes all clash against Wales on Monday.

They have something of a point to prove after a sluggish three or four matches.

There is still a chance Austria can leapfrog both Wales and the Republic of Ireland, although for that to happen Wales would have to lose to Georgia and the Republic of Ireland at home to Moldova, with the two nations drawing in Cardiff.

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Andre Agius provided Malta's opener with with a stunning, low rocket from over 40 yards out, but Vykintas Slivka drew the visitors level with a fine shot from just outside the box early in the second half.

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