Noel King 'optimistic' ahead of Republic of Ireland U21s clash against Israel

Kristopher Nichols
October 10, 2017

Moments later, Ireland goalkeeper Darren Randolph was called into action to push a long-range Aaron Ramsey effort over the crossbar. He will be hoping Wales can win and other results go the right way to secure his first appearance at the World Cup finals.

Martin O'Neill's team must win to have any chance of qualifying for the World Cup finals in Russian Federation next summer. Updates from now on will be with the minute of the match.

Wales will once again be without the injured Gareth Bale, who watched his team-mates train at the Cardiff City Stadium on Sunday.

Who's already qualified for the 2018 World Cup?

That came in the wake of successive soft-tissue problems last season that severely disrupted his 2016-17 campaign.

As there are nine qualifying groups but only eight teams can progress through to the play-offs, the second-placed team with the worst record misses out.

They also have a chance of finishing as group winners, but only if Serbia fail to beat Georgia.

It's as tight as can be at the top of Group D with Serbia now in pole position for an automatic qualifying spot but either side can still top the group themselves if they are victorious and The Eagles slip up at home to Georgia, although on the evidence of the campaign so far that is fairly unlikely.

In this scenario, the last play-off place comes down to "the drawing of lots".

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The result means that Ireland have finished second in their group behind Serbia, so they'll now advance to a two-legged play-off which will take place next month.

Winning would guarantee second place and a play-off spot.

Ireland could still qualify automatically, should Georgia win away to Serbia, though O'Neill is not hopeful.

1905: Let's take a look at the Sky Bet odds for tonight's match.

Hal Robson-Kanu of Wales tries to control the ball as the Republic of Ireland's David Meyler moves in to challenge.

But what they don't know is whether a win will even be enough.

Republic of Ireland make three alterations from the victory against Moldova. Harry Arter comes in for the Norwich City playmaker, while Callum O'Dowda also drops out.

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