The Republic of Ireland take on Moldova in their penultimate World Cup qualifier, with a crunch showdown against Wales to follow three days later as they aim to keep their hopes of reaching the tournament alive.
Martin O'Neill's team are currently third in Group D, five points behind leaders Serbia and one point behind second-place Wales, meaning that their chances of automatic qualification are slim. Indeed, due to the nature of reaching the play-offs, even a second-place finish may not be enough.
However, the Boys in Green remain determined to give their fans something to cheer about in their final home game of the cycle and set themselves up nicely for a crucial meeting with Wales in Cardiff next week.
|Game||Republic of Ireland vs Moldova|
|Date||Friday, October 6|
|Time||19:45 BST / 14:45 ET|
TV CHANNEL & LIVE STREAM
In the UK, the game will be available to watch live on television on Sky Sports Football, as well as being available to stream live using Sky Go. Viewers in Ireland will be able to watch live on RTE 2 or online using the RTE Player.
|UK TV channel||Online stream|
|Sky Sports Football||Sky Go|
In the US, the game will not be shown live on television, but it can be watched in full on a delayed broadcast on ESPN Deportes. However, it will be available to stream live online using WatchESPN.
|US TV channel||Online stream|
SQUADS & TEAM NEWS
|Position||Republic of Ireland players|
|Goalkeepers||Randolph, Elliot, Doyle|
|Defenders||O'Shea, Ward, Clark, Keogh, Christie, Duffy, Long|
|Midfielders||McGeady, Whelan, McClean, Hoolahan, Brady, Hendrick, Meyler, Arter, O'Kane, O'Dowda, Hourihane|
|Forwards||Long, Murphy, Hogan, Maguire|
Ireland are without a number of key players for the games against Moldova and Wales with captain Seamus Coleman still on the road to recovery from a broken leg, while Jonathan Walters is ruled out due to a knee injury.
Kevin Doyle was named in the initial squad but withdrew following his abrupt retirement, while Keiren Westwood also pulled out due to injury. Everton midfielder James McCarthy was included, despite objections from his manager Ronald Koeman, but he will play no part against Moldova. Daryl Horgan, David McGoldrick, Aiden O'Brien and Jonny Hayes will also miss out.
Potential starting XI: Randolph; Ward, Clark, Duffy, Christie; Meyler, Arter, Hendrick, Brady, McClean; Long.
|Goalkeepers||Cebanu, Pasceno, Koselev, Mitu|
|Defenders||Epureanu, Bordian, Racu, Bolohan, Posmac, Graur, Rozgoniuc, Ojog|
|Midfielders||Gatcan, Cebotaru, Dedov, Cojocari, Antoniuc, Ionita, Tigirlas, Pascenco, Ivanov, Cociuc, Anton, Paireli|
|Forwards||Ginsari, Ambros, Platica|
Moldova are without the talents of veteran attacker Igor Bugaiov, who scored when the sides met in Chisinau last October. However, they are able to call upon the majority of the squad who kept Wales scoreless until the 80th minute last month.
They will look to the leadership qualities of Istanbul Basaksehir defender Alexandru Epureanu at the back as they mount a resistance, while the experience of midfielder Artur Ionita, who plays in Serie A with Cagliari, will also be an asset.
Potential starting XI: Cebanu; Rozgoniuc, Epureanu, Posmac, Bordian; Anton, Ionita, Dedov, Pascenco, Graur; Ginsari
BETTING & MATCH ODDS
Ireland are 1/8 favourites to win at home according to dabblebet, with Moldova priced at 16/1 to record an upset and a draw is available at 15/2.
Ireland began their qualification campaign well, wrapping up 2016 with a historic away win over Austria, but they seem to have taken their eyes off the prize in 2017, failing to win any of their four qualifiers this year. Among those results was a disappointing away draw against Georgia, which was followed by a deflating home defeat to Serbia.
The upshot of their dismal 2017 displays is that O'Neill's men are facing the possibility of failing to qualify for the World Cup, with a place in the play-offs not even guaranteed should they win their remaining matches.
Despite that looming prospect, the Football Association of Ireland have extended the former Aston Villa boss' contract, which may help to settle the squad somewhat, and there is a sense of defiance within the camp about their chances.
Having underwhelmed in their last two games, O'Neill will be keen for his players to use the home match against Moldova as a statement of intent with a decisive game against Wales on the horizon.