GOALS REQUIRED — BUT WHO CAN HIT THE TARGET AGAINST WALES?
THE Republic of Ireland head into tomorrow’s must-win World Cup showdown with Wales having scored just 11 goals in their nine Group D matches to date. With 68-goal record scorer Robbie Keane now retired, the onus is on the current crop to step up.
Nottingham Forest striker Murphy scored his first senior international goal at the 24th time of asking when he snatched a 2-2 draw in Serbia last September. He marked his 30th cap with a double against Moldova on Friday evening and heads into the Wales game in good form for both club and country.
Long (right) has gone 24 games without a goal for either Southampton or the Republic since he registered in a Premier League game at Sunderland on February 11. He has struck 17 times for the Republic, including a famous winner against world champions Germany in October 2015, but passed up three glorious chances against Moldova.
McClean has risen to the fore during the campaign, scoring twice in a 3-1 win in Moldova and then the only goal as Ireland triumphed in Austria. He was suspended for the Moldova home game on Friday and will be desperate to make up for lost time in Cardiff.
Like McClean, Brady was banned against Moldova, in his case for the second time in this campaign, but his ability from set-pieces in particular could prove a major weapon. It was he who famously headed Ireland to victory over Italy at Euro 2016 and then converted the penalty which stunned hosts France in the last 16.
Regarded more as a supplier than a finisher, Hoolahan nevertheless has the ability to get among the goals. He last scored for his country in the 1-1 draw with Sweden which opened their Euro 2016 finals campaign and there could be no better time for him to end his drought.
O’Neill played a wild card when he handed winger Callum O’Dowda a start against Moldova, and Aston Villa striker Scott Hogan could yet find himself winning a first cap in Wales if a late assault is required. Having scored freely for Brentford, Hogan has managed just four goals since joining Villa in January, but is desperate for a chance to prove he has what it takes at international level.