Prediction: Wales vs Republic of Ireland

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The news that Gareth Bale would be missing both of the final two qualifiers for Wales was the best news Martin O'Neill and company could have hoped for this weekend.

In their last matches in the group, Wales will slog it out with the Republic of Ireland at the Cardiff City Stadium on Monday 9 October.

"We're on risky ground if we go in with a game plan of trying to soak the pressure up for 90 minutes", said the Wales manager, who will be without the injured Gareth Bale.

"Whatever game plan we have, we have to execute it well and we have to be patient, but not too patient". We have to win a game in Cardiff and the chances are there for us.

"We have to do that - it's our strength". That's the way it's set up.

On Tuesday, I said that the permutations in Group I would make a chess grandmaster's head explode and dismissed it as a relative long shot. "We always seem to play other countries who are involved and celebrating - but we welcome the pressure".

Still, Ireland got the win they needed, and with Robbie Brady and James McClean on the way back after suspension, manager Martin O'Neill is in a position to shuffle his pack ahead of the Cardiff fixture.

And they were given no time to pose any sort of threat to Ireland last night, with the home side in front before two minutes had elapsed.

The unusual ending to the qualifying group means Ireland and Wales can both finish in first, second and third.

Former Celtic boss O'Neill took charge in November 2013 and led Ireland to the last 16 at Euro 2016, where they were beaten 2-1 by runners-up and tournament hosts France.

The Republic of Ireland continued their push for a play-off spot after recording a 2-0 win over Moldova.

However the old Irish trait of letting the opponents back into the game after a good start is worrying.

Wales skipper Ashley Williams came into the Georgia game low on confidence with the criticism of many Everton supporters ringing in his ears.

Wales vs. Republic of Ireland is bound to be full of passion and no little aggression, while there is bad blood between the two teams.

"It's going to be a hell of a game".

Lawrence lashed home right-footed from just outside the area in the 49th minute to earn Wales only their fourth victory in nine qualifying games and put them clear in second spot in Group D with 17 points, a point behind leaders Serbia who suffered a shock 3-2 loss at fourth-placed Austria. "We're going to need all the help we can get".

'We haven't been sat with pen and paper, but we're aware of scores elsewhere, ' Wales defender Gunter said. "It is there for us, let's go for it".

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