Ireland v Austria: Giovanni Trapattoni's side looking to steal a march on rivals
The Republic of Ireland can move into second place in Group C with a win over Austria on Tuesday.
Last Updated: 26/03/13 11:54am
Ireland v Austria
Giovanni Trapattoni's side are fighting a three-way battle with the Austrians and Sweden for the runner-up spot behind runaway leaders Germany, with just a point currently separating the trio.
Having claimed a creditable 0-0 draw in Stockholm on Friday, the Irish will now look to open up a gap on their two rivals by beating an Austria side that started the campaign well but has since stuttered.
Sweden are not in action on Tuesday, but an Irish victory would nevertheless pile serious pressure on their rivals, particularly given that three of their last five matches are at the Aviva, with two of those appearing to be home bankers against struggling Kazakhstan and the hapless Faroe Islands.
Conversely, a defeat would do serious damage to Irish chances of qualifying for a second successive major tournament, with Austria moving three points into the distance and Sweden a point ahead with a game in hand.
And the Austrians are unlikely to travel to Dublin thinking a draw would suffice. Tuesday's game kicks off a crucial run of five matches in which they face the Irish twice, Swedes twice and Germany once.
They have the luxury of the facing the Faroes in their final group game, but they know that match will be inconsequential if they fail to make headway before then, starting at the Aviva.
Marcel Koller's side will, however, be buoyed by having won eight of their previous 12 meetings with Ireland, losing only twice.Robbie Keane has been ruled out for Ireland with a calf strain and is expected to be replaced up front by Derby County's Conor Sammon, who will make his first competitive international start.
Manager Giovanni Trapattoni is expected to return Glenn Whelan to his starting line-up after the Stoke City midfielder missed Friday's draw in Sweden with an ankle injury. Paul Green is likely to make way.
Stephen Kelly is waiting in the wings to start should Marc Wilson fail a late fitness test.
Austria have no injury concerns and are expected to start with the same team that beat the Faroe Islands 6-0 on Friday.
Philipp Hosiner scored twice in that match and will once again lead the forward line, while Bayern Munich's David Alaba will continue in central midfield.
West Ham United defender Emanuel Pogatetz will line up in the centre of defence.