Giovanni Trapattoni, the Republic of Ireland manager, has opted for Derby County striker Conor Sammon to replace the injured Robbie Keane as his side seek the goals that will bring victory against Austria in Dublin tonight.
Sammon is perhaps a controversial choice to line up alongside West Brom's Shane Long in attack with Jon Walters once again asked to patrol the right side of midfield and Simon Cox, the recalled Kevin Doyle and highly-rated Norwich playmaker Wes Hoolahan held in reserve. But Trapattoni made no apologies for selecting the Championship forward.
"Physically he [Sammon] is strong enough, he's quick and he is good in the air and he showed us good quality in the last game," Trapattoni said. "He is not only tall, he is fast as well. Long is fast as well and we need two fast players. It's important to defend the ball and give this support to allow the team to come up [the pitch].
Glenn Whelan missed the 0-0 draw with Sweden on Friday through injury but has recovered and replaces Paul Green in midfield.
The Northern Ireland manager, Michael O'Neill, is confident their qualifier against Israel will go ahead in Belfast tonight despite the Russia game being postponed twice at the weekend. O'Neill made his own visit to Windsor Park yesterday and is certain there will be no problems. "I was at the pitch this morning, it's not wet and it's not sticky," he said.
Gordon Strachan has insisted Scotland will not put on another "freak" show tonight when they take on Serbia in Novi Sad.
The Scotland squad arrived in Belgrade yesterday still unable to fathom out their woeful start to Friday night's 2-1 home defeat to Wales. "It was a freak 25 minutes," Strachan said. "It was a disappointment for everybody who went there, people were scratching their heads as to what happened. I don't think that will ever happen again – I know it won't happen again."
The Wales captain Ashley Williams believes his side must win against Croatia in Swansea if they are to retain any hope of reaching the 2014 finals in Brazil. "We are seven points off them so if we want to do anything in the group we need to win this game, it's that important," Williams said.
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