PNE duo in the Republic of Ireland squad

Republic of Ireland manager Martin O'Neill

The quartet of David Meyler, Wes Hoolahan, Callum O'Dowda and Jeff Hendrick linked-up superbly throughout the evening, their passing and movement the platform for Ireland's win.

The permutations aren't looking good for the second-placed team in Group D, while there will be a few sweaty palms for those teams competing in Group E and H who are only slightly better off than Wales and Republic.

But what must Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland do to make sure they qualify for the World Cup? talkSPORT explain everything below... If they finish second by winning both games, Ireland will have 13 points to their name in the play-off table. The reverse fixture nearly a year ago to the day finished 3-1 to the Boys in Green and with home advantage and realistic hopes of a play-off spot, there are few reasons to oppose O'Neill's men making the flawless start to this double header.

It hasn't been pretty but is a scenario that Martin O'Neill and Irish supporters would probably have accepted heading into Monday night's showdown in Cardiff. "But I definitely think that he is a goalscorer", he added.

The notion that Ireland have underperformed is not one that O'Neill endorses and he can counter it by pointing to the fact Ireland started as fourth seeds in the group and stand in third place with an opportunity to rise higher with two games left.

Only victory over group whipping boys Moldova will do for O'Neill's men after two draws last month damaged their qualifying hopes.

But despite Ronald Koeman's plea for McCarthy to focus on club over country, O'Neill says the former Hamilton Academical man has insisted he is available to play for the Republic. "I think they are ready for it".

Asked if McCarthy was ruled out, O'Neill said: "Well, I don't think so, no - and he doesn't want to be ruled out at the moment".

Thomas Muller is one of the senior players who is in there and I think that, having had his own struggles, he'll be out to prove a point. They're on 11, Ireland are on 10.

"I had a conversation with John [Delaney, FAI chief executive] not so very long ago and John would like me to continue", O'Neill said.

Robbie Brady and James McClean are out due to suspension.


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