5 talking points ahead of Ireland’s clash with Wales

Martin O’Neill and Ryan Giggs go head-to-head on Tuesday evening as the Ireland and Wales contest three Nations League points in Dublin.

Ireland go into the game without a competitive victory since beating Wales in a World Cup qualifier 12 months ago, while Giggs’ men roared to a 4-1 win over the Irish in UEFA’s new international competition in September.

Here, Press Association Sport takes a look at some of the talking points surrounding the game.

Promotion to League A still up for grabs

Ireland looked like cannon fodder in this group after being humbled in Cardiff last month. But Wales’ subsequent defeat in Denmark and the Ireland’s hard-fought draw with the Danes on Saturday means there is still plenty to play for. A win for either side in Dublin could provide the momentum to edge Denmark for top spot and win promotion to the top tier of the Nations League.

Wales without Bale and Ramsey

The news on Sunday that Gareth Bale had returned to Madrid and would not be travelling to Dublin did not come as a surprise. Bale missed Thursday’s 4-1 friendly defeat to Spain in Cardiff with muscle fatigue, and Real Madrid had made it known they did not want him risked.

Wales suffered a further blow on Monday when another of their star men, Aaron Ramsey, pulled out of the match due to family reasons. Wales still have attacking options with the pace and energy of David Brooks and Tom Lawrence complementing Sam Vokes’ ability to hold-up play, but it goes without saying that the absence of Bale and Ramsey weakens them considerably.

Irish patience wearing thin

Chances were few and far between during the Republic’s 0-0 draw with Denmark on Saturday evening (Niall Carson/PA)

O’Neill has repeatedly defended his conservative approach by pointing to his results, which have been largely positive during a reign which will reach the five-year mark next month. However, his team has scored only nine goals in its last 12 matches and there were murmurs of discontent from the stands on Saturday evening with creativity in desperately short supply during a 0-0 draw with the Danes.

Response to Spanish inquisition

A month ago, Wales battered the Republic 4-1 in Cardiff and this crop of Welsh players were being hailed far and wide. Since then, Giggs’ side has learned the harsh realities of international football with defeats to Denmark and Spain. The former Manchester United winger was concerned that his team failed to do the basics right against Spain and the response from that sobering defeat will reveal much about the character of his players.

Round pegs in round holes

Republic of Ireland winger James McClean played as a wing-back against the Danes (Niall Carson/PA)

O’Neill has had to be inventive having assembled a squad packed with passion and commitment, but short on world-class talent. However against Denmark, he had full-back Cyrus Christie playing in midfield in an effort to get in-form Wolves defender Matt Doherty into the team and James McClean, arguably his most attack-minded player, operating in the left wing-back role as Jeff Hendrick tried to support goal-shy striker Shane Long. Injuries have robbed the manager of Seamus Coleman, Stephen Ward, Robbie Brady, James McCarthy and Jonathan Walters, while Declan Rice’s future remains undecided, but the need to make do and mend has proved an unwelcome complication.

- Press Association

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