O'Neill agrees two-year contract extension with Ireland

Jeff Hendrick celebrates scoring the winning goal for Burnley against Everton yesterday with his Ireland team-mate Stephen Ward

They now head to Cardiff on Monday having to beat Chris Coleman's Euro 2016 semi-finalists, who are ranked 21 places above them by Federation Internationale de Football Association, to stand a chance of progressing from a wide-open group.

Martin O'Neill has trimmed his Republic of Ireland squad ahead of Friday's World Cup qualifier against Moldova in Dublin.

The Nottingham Forest striker marked his 30th senior cap with his second and third goals for his country on a night when victory was the only option if Ireland were to keep their hopes of emerging from Group D alive.

Ireland has failed to win in its last four games but must now win its last two for a real chance at qualifying for the 2018 FIFA World Cup.

Southgate is under pressure and we don't know what formation or system he wants to play.

James McClean was the hero the last time the sides met when he bagged himself a brace in a 3-1 victory for the Republic but he and Robbie Brady will both be unavailable for selection tonight after picking up yellow cards in the loss to Serbia last month.

O'Neill's record reads favourably compared to previous incumbents and there is a lot to be said for continuity within an global setup that desperately needs to bring through a new generation of Irish footballers.

Hogan is joined in attack by Shane Long, Daryl Murphy, David McGoldrick, Sean Maguire and Aiden O'Brien, with O'Neill opting to make Hogan one of three new attackers in the Ireland setup.

I'm not suggesting Northern Ireland will down tools but I think they'll accept they will be on the back foot and will have to work hard defensively.

"I think the season tickets have gone from 4,000 when we started to 16,000, so I think there is some evidence that we're doing okay".

Assistant boss Roy Keane is yet to be confirmed as staying on.

O'Neill revealed that his contract is set to be extended by two years and he is excited by the prospect of Euro 2020 matches being hosted in Ireland's capital.

"I'm delighted. I've enjoyed it immensely".

"We've looked at the fact that there are some young players coming through - I say "young players", I'm talking about mid-20s - who hopefully will take on the mantle of the older players when they drop out of the squad, so I think there is much to look forward to".

"Whatever decision we come to, I think he would be happy to go along with it".

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