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Dublin: 6 °C Thursday 13 December, 2018
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It doesn't sound like Martin O'Neill is expecting a pretty game against Scotland

Defeat on Saturday evening would leave Ireland facing a difficult gap, O’Neill concedes.

Scotland's players surround Richard Keogh during Ireland's November defeat in Glasgow.
Scotland's players surround Richard Keogh during Ireland's November defeat in Glasgow.
Image: James Crombie/INPHO

IRELAND AND SCOTLAND’S last meeting wasn’t exactly ‘the beautiful game’ — and Martin O’Neill has warned that there might be more of the same on Saturday night.

Played to the soundtrack of a hostile Glasgow reception for Aiden McGeady, the sides combined for seven yellow cards but only six shots on target in a game that showed few creative flashes until Shaun Maloney’s winning goal for the Scots late on.

O’Neill expects another physical affair on a night when Ireland can ill-afford to lose, although he promised that his side will start out with the best of intentions.

He said: “I thought that that’s the way that [November] game would be.

“It would be our intention here at home to try to create a bit more space for ourselves, that would be very important, but who knows what way it might pan out.

I just think that’s the nature of the countries. Regardless of what happened, I think that you always feel that there’s going to be a bit of physicality about the game, but that’s part of football as well.

“I wouldn’t have thought that any of the two would start out with that intention but the game in Scotland, it became that kind of game and there was nobody able to change the course of it.”

Scotland hold a two-point advantage over Ireland in the Group D battle and while O’Neill knows that defeat would not be fatal, it would leave Ireland as rank outsiders to qualify for France.

“We don’t want Scotland to get too far ahead of us for a start. We don’t want to give ourselves a mountain to climb for the last four matches, so it will be important.

If we can win the game, we’re right there and obviously if we lose the game, the gap with only four matches left becomes difficult.

“There will be a few twists and turns along the way until you complete the group but we have some home matches and we want to try to take advantage of them.”

Martin O’Neill has delivered an injury update of a different kind after last night’s car crash

A former Scottish international says McGeady could be the difference this weekend

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Niall Kelly

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