REPUBLIC OF IRELAND
The Republic of Ireland will be hoping to bounce back from their bitterly disappointing penalty-shootout defeat away to Slovakia on Thursday evening when they welcome Wales to the Aviva Stadium on Sunday afternoon (kick-off is at 2pm).
The Boys in Green were the better side for large swathes of the game in Bratislava on Thursday evening but left with nothing to show for their efforts.
However, despite the natural disappointment – Stephen Kenny is hoping that his side can rise to the occasion just three days after Thursday’s heartbreak.
“We have a lot to consider,” Kenny said to the media this evening. “Obviously, we had the players after playing 120 minutes on Thursday but at the same time every international is important.
“It’s significant for the players, albeit that it’s not taking place in front of a full house. Some may think that dilutes the importance of it, but it still should be an occasion and all the players will want to play.
“Playing for your country is something that all the players are proud to do. They’re hurting after they lost the other night, it’s a huge disappointment that we lost in the manner that we did. The players were excellent.”
Midfielder Alan Browne added: “It’s probably a good thing that the game comes so soon (after Thursday).
“I know it won’t make up for what was lost because there was so much at stake but it’s another chance to go out and play well, hopefully win the game and take as many positives from it as we can.
“The game (on Thursday) is gone, we’re all devastated with the result, but we can’t dwell on it because it will haunt you forever. We’ll go into the Wales game now with belief and positivity.”
Ireland will be without David McGoldrick with injury while James McCarthy is rated as a doubt after picking up a knock on Thursday.
However, Daryl Horgan and Sean Maguire have both been called up to the squad because of the withdrawals of Adam Idah and Aaron Connolly.
Like Ireland, Wales head into Sunday afternoon’s Lansdowne Road showdown off the back of a defeat in their last game.
Ryan Giggs’ side fell to a heavy 3-0 defeat away to England at Wembley Stadium which saw their first defeat since June 2019.
However, while they will be looking to bounce back with a win – their manager Ryan Giggs is wary of the challenge that Ireland pose to his side.
“They (Ireland) played well and were unlucky to lose (on Thursday),” he said. “I thought they were the better team, with lots of energy and not giving you time on the ball.
“I expect the same and our concentration will have to be at its best, and when we get chances, we need to take them.
“Our concentration has to be good and the squad has to be used. Three points is going to be tough, but if we do get them it will put us in a good position in the group.”
Welsh full-back Ben Davies added: “We are desperate to bounce back. We have been on a decent run before this game so we have to go again and try and start another one.
“We will have a look at it the next couple of days, I’m convinced there are a lot positives to take.
“There are definitely things we can improve on and it is a big game on Sunday where we can show that.
In terms if team news for Wales, Aaron Ramsey, Harry Wilson, and David Brooks are expected to return from recent knocks that saw them miss out on their defeat away to England.
Meanwhile, forward Kieffer Moore and defender Chris Mepham are rated as doubts.
Referee: Tasos Sidiropoulos (Greece).
Wales currently occupy top spot of the UEFA Nations League group following two wins from their opening two games.
The Republic of Ireland on the other hand lie in joint-third, level on points with Bulgaria after the sides drew 1-1 in Sofia last month.
The Boys in Green have not won a competitive senior international since June 2019 when they defeated Gibraltar 2-0 at the Aviva Stadium under previous boss Mick McCarthy.
Republic of Ireland 19/10; Draw 15/8; Wales 13/8.
Republic of Ireland 2 - 1 Wales
Republic of Ireland
Injured: David McGoldrick.
Doubtful: James McCarthy.
Unavailable: Adam Idah, Aaron Connolly
Doubtful: Kieffer Moore, Chris Mepham.