The Republic of Ireland travel to Estonia in their biggest game in recent years as Giovanni Trapattoni’s men look to secure their place in the European Championships in Poland and Ukraine next year as Paddy Power report free bets on the Irish victory.
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Before they can do that however there is the small task of getting past Estonia in the Euro 2012 play-offs, starting with a difficult first away leg.
Ireland narrowly missed out on an automatic spot in the tournament next year, finishing just two points behind group winners Russia to put them into the play-offs although they will be thankful for receiving an seeding for the draw which handed them an easier tie.
Ireland haven’t made it to the European Championships since 1988 and will be desperate to make it back to the top table of International football but first they must secure a positive result or at least a narrow defeat in Tallinn to keep the tie alive ahead of the second leg in Dublin next week.
Trapattoni received a much needed boost when Irish record scorer Robbie Keane was declared fit for the crucial game. The LA Galaxy striker picked up a knock while playing against Armenia for Ireland last month, but has been regaining fitness with the MLS outfit, helping them to the MLS cup final before travelling back to meet up with his international colleagues.
Kevin Doyle and Shane Long are out of the game respectively through suspension and injury respectively, meaning Simon Cox and Jonathan Walters will fight it out for a place alongside Keane.
Ireland still have some concerns over the fitness of goalkeeper Shay Given who was forced to miss training this week, but the Aston Villa shotstopper should be fit enough to take to the field on Friday.
Estonia will still be flying high after finishing second in a highly competitive group containing Serbia, Slovenia and eventual group winners Italy, and were further buoyed by the return to fitness of Andrei Sidorenkov and forward Vladimir Voskoboinikov.