Belfast Telegraph

Ireland dealt huge blow ahead of tonight's crunch Wales clash as Shane Long is ruled out

The Republic of Ireland will be without the services of Shane Long for tonight's make-or-break World Cup qualifier with Wales in Cardiff.

The Southampton striker is injured and will miss the game with Ireland needing a win to secure a World Cup play-off. He played for 82 minutes in the 2-0 win over Moldova on Friday and trained last night but has since been ruled out.

Daryl Murphy, who scored both goals in Friday's win, will most likely start up front with former Cork City striker Seanie Maguire or Aston Villa's Scott Hogan likely to see game time.

Long has not scored for club or country since February but despite his goal drought, he was viewed as pivotal to his side's chances of beating Chris Coleman's Wales. His last international goal came in the 3-1 won over Moldova in Chisinau a year ago today.

With Jon Walters also out injured and Kevin Doyle forced into retirement, Ireland's forward reserves are significantly depleted for their most important game since last year's European Championships.

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