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Ireland can eke out first-leg advantage
Republic of Ireland travel to Denmark for their World Cup play-off first leg on Saturday where avoiding defeat will be crucial.
Martin O'Neill's side are aiming to qualify for their first World Cup finals since 2002 but face a tough task over two games against the Danes to make it to Russia.

Denmark have failed to make the last two finals themselves so both countries will, of course, be eager to progress through the play-off and take their place in next summer's showpiece, with Ireland the slight outsiders overall, even though they have home advantage in the second leg.

O'Neill's men, on offer at n/a to win the first leg, finished the group stage in second place behind Serbia with 19 points and proved time and again they can get a result when it matters. The 1-0 win over Wales that sealed a play-off spot was a case in point and they will go to Copenhagen this weekend with a gameplan to frustrate the hosts and try and nick something on the break.

Avoiding defeat, or even a narrow loss for the Republic will set up the second leg in Dublin on Tuesday nicely and, considering what's at stake, expect a tight clash on Saturday.

Burnley duo Jeff Hendrick and Stephen Ward have both shaken off injuries to be fit but David Meyler is suspended for the first leg, while James McCarthy. Jonathan Walters and Richard Keogh are all absent.

Denmark, who will rely on Spurs star Christian Eriksen for inspiration, have been boosted ahead of the game by the news key defender Simon Kjaer should be available after recovering from a hamstring strain. The home side are n/a to come out on top, while the draw is n/a.

Ireland have a good recent record against the Danes, winning two and drawing two of the last four meetings, while they will have good memories of their last visit to the country - a 4-0 win in Aarhus in 2007. A repeat of that scoreline would represent dreamland for the Irish but it's an outcome that's unlikely as it sounds and a battling draw, either 0-0 or 1-1, is much more realistic.

Recommended bet: Draw n/a.
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