Sanchez seeks Welsh favour

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The Independent Football

Northern Ireland's hopes of qualifying are already hanging by a thread after gaining only two points from three games.

Northern Ireland's hopes of qualifying are already hanging by a thread after gaining only two points from three games.

Nothing less than a victory against Austria tonight will do. The Northern Ireland coach, Lawrie Sanchez, is also looking for Wales to do his side a favour and beat second-placed Poland at the Millennium Stadium. That would bunch up the play-off contenders behind England - Sanchez expects Sven Goran Eriksson's side to beat Azerbaijan and go on to win the group with an unbeaten record.

Sanchez said: "If we beat Austria and Wales defeat Poland, there would be only one point separating second from fourth in the table. That would keep everything alive. We want second place."

Chris Baird and Mark Clyde are both doubts for tonight's match at Windsor Park. The pair both suffered ankle injuries in training yesterday. The Preston striker David Healy, who has scored seven goals in nine internationals, looks certain to start up front after serving a one-match ban.

Austria coach Hans Krankl is without striker Mario Haas and defenders Joachim Standfest and Anton Ehmann, while midfielders Rene Aufhauser and Andreas Ivanschitz are doubtful.

* The Irish Football Association are in discussions with senior Northern Ireland players over a pay rise for the squad, who earn a match fee of £300 a man, with a £200 win bonus and £100 for a draw.

NORTHERN IRELAND (probable, 4-4-2): Taylor (Birmingham City); McCartney (Sunderland), Williams (Milton Keynes), Murdock (Hibernian), A Hughes (Newcastle United); Gillespie (Leicester City), Johnson (Birmingham City), Whitley (Sunderland), Doherty (Bristol City); Healy (Preston), Quinn (Willem II).

AUSTRIA (probable, 4-4-2): Manninger (Siena); Kiesenebner (Austria Vienna), Stranzl (VfB Stuttgart), Hiden (Rapid Vienna), Pogatetz (Graz AK); Aufhauser (Graz AK), Schopp (Brescia), Kühbauer (SV Mattersburg), Kollmann (Graz AK); Ivanschitz (Rapid Vienna), Vastic (Austria Vienna).

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