As the draw was made, the trip to Moldova looked to be the easiest away game Ireland would face. That is likely still the case, but circumstances dictate that it will be much trickier than initially thought. Robbie Brady has been left behind to recover from being knocked out cold against Georgia, and Jeff Hendrick will miss the game through suspension. Harry Arter will miss the game through injury, as will Daryl Murphy.
With the squad stretched, here is the Irish team that we would like to see roll ova' Moldova. (Sorry). It's a 4-3-3 formation, by the way.
While Eamon Dunphy will do his usual thing of being utterly outraged by marginal selections in the back line, we see no reason in changing a stable backline. So expect Randolph to be behind the same back four as shut out Georgia: namely Coleman at right-back, a central pairing of Duffy and Clark, with the much-improved Stephen Ward at left-back.
In fact, we'd be content if the only change is the number on Shane Duffy's back.
With the game away from home, Martin O'Neill will likely be tempted to take a good, long look at breaking the glass surrounding Glenn Whelan's selection. We don't think he should, however, and should continue with James McCarthy as the main man in the middle. McCarthy plays better for Ireland when he is the only man in the middle, and, even when at his worst, is reliable.
Ahead of him, we'd like to see O'Neill stick with the idea against Georgia, albeit with a change in personnel. Against Georgia, the idea was for Jeff Hendrick and Robbie Brady to get close to each other and combine to cause the Georgian defence problems. That didn't happen, mainly due to Ireland's weirdly complacent start, and in their absence, we don't think the idea should be thrown out. So we want to see Wes come in -obviously, he's great - and, given that we should beat Moldova, it's time for some experimentation: Eunan O'Kane.
Shane Long is fit after a minor injury scare, so we'd be in favour of keeping the front three intact also. McClean offered a decent aerial threat from the left-wing against Georgia, and if we can get Jon Walters slightly closer to Long, then all will be well with the world.
Our preferred Ireland team vs Moldova : Randolph; Coleman, Duffy, Clark, Ward; McCarthy, Hoolahan, O'Kane; Walters, Long, McClean
That all being said, we don't expect O'Neill to listen to us. (Stop sniggering).
We're expecting a 4-2-3-1 from O'Neill, with Whelan and McCarthy in midfield, with an attacking line of Wes, McClean and Walters between the midfielders and Shane Long.
Expected XI Ireland team vs Moldova : Randolph; Coleman, Duffy, Clark, Ward; Whelan, McCarthy; Walters, Hoolahan, McClean; Long.