Be inspired by history, Martin O'Neill tells Republic of Ireland squad

Barcelona's Pique was jeered by Spain fans. Pic Getty

Ireland's preparations for tonight's crucial World Cup qualifier has suffered a huge blow after it emerged that Shane Long has been ruled out of the tie. And within a few years Wales found themselves rocketing up the rankings, breaking into the FIFA Top 10, which led them to becoming top seed for the current qualifying campaign.

Turkey and Ukraine are two points behind the other pair and could still force their way into top spot, although Croatia won 1-0 in Finland earlier in the campaign and are 5/1 to repeat the feat on Friday.

"This group of players have made a difference and they have gone one step further than anybody else that has come before them".

Although substitute Robert Snodgrass snatched an 88th minute equaliser, Scotland never really looked good enough even when coming close to unlikely glory after Slovenia's Bostjan Cesar, on his 100th appearance, was sent off in added time.

"They can give us problems but we can give them problems as well and we can only be optimistic going into the game".

"We have to try and contain our excitement because we've always wanted to be in these games where everything is on it".

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"A team without Gareth Bale is better for us", Duffy said.

"Big nights that we have had in the past - and in the recent past - it's fresh in the memory". When we get off to a decent start, the mindset changes a little bit in terms of points.

That is the ideal scenario, yet there is also a nightmare one too.

"I'd much prefer to be planning with him than planning without him".

Serbia lead the group on 18 points but if Georgia can manage a shock win in Belgrade then a win in Cardiff would see Martin O'Neill's men finish in first place on 19 points.

"Hopefully I will get another couple of minutes but no matter what happens, we just need to get those three points". Ireland failed to clear their lines before Joe Ledley picked out Hal Robson-Kanu who glanced a header just wide. But if you had said to me right at the beginning when the group was drawn that we'd have to go to Wales and win - and we were down as fourth seeds - I would have taken it.

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