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Michael O'Neill's men struggle to find the net at the best of times and Al Hain-Cole does not expect them to have any joy against their stubborn guests without some key forwards

Russia will be hoping to reclaim top spot in their World Cup qualifying group when they visit Windsor Park on Wednesday to face a Northern Ireland side who are yet to pick up a win on the road to Brazil.

A 1-0 defeat in Portugal ended the Sbornaya’s 100 per cent record in Group F, but they are clear 2/5 (1.40) favourites with BetVictor to move back into the driving seat with all three points in Belfast.

Michael O’Neill is yet to win a game since taking over in December 2011, but you can get odds of 17/2 (9.50) on his side coming out on top at the 10th attempt this evening.

Four of the hosts’ last five games have resulted in draws, and they are available at 7/2 (4.50) to earn a share of the spoils in this encounter.

It is not difficult to spot where The Green and White Army have struggled during their qualification campaign, as a lack of cutting edge has seen them bag only three goals in their five fixtures.

Including friendlies, O’Neill’s tenure has reaped just six goals in nine games, and they are unlikely to improve on that record against their prestigious opponents in the absence of key attackers Kyle Lafferty, Paddy McCourt and David Healy.

Considering the visitors have only let in one goal in their five qualifying games so far, even money (2.00) seems rather generous on them emerging victorious without conceding against their goal shy opponents tonight.

However, with main frontmen Aleksandr Kerzhakov and Aleksandr Kokorin ruled out through injury, Fabio Capello’s men will be looking for goals from all areas of the pitch, and this means Roman Shirokov could yet prove decisive.

The Zenit St Petersburg midfielder comes into this match fresh from scoring twice in his side’s Champions League win over Nordsjaelland, and his recent record of four goals in the last eight international appearances makes him a tempting proposition at 9/5 (2.80) to hit the back of the net in this game, particularly given his expertise from the penalty spot.

BET
OF THE
DAY
BEST BET
VALUE BET
Russia to win to nil for a 1pt stake at Evens (2.00) with BetVictor
Roman Shirokov to score anytime for a 1pt stake at 9/5 (2.80) with BetVictor

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Al Hain-Cole is a Liverpool fan, experienced tipster and avid follower of European football. He specialises in accumulators and if you would like to read more from Al you can follow him on Twitter here.

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