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Clarets Face Cardiff Showdown

Turf Moor team-mates could meet in World Cup decider

6 September 2017

Turf Moor team-mates Sam Vokes, Robbie Brady, Jeff Hendrick, Jon Walters, Stephen Ward and Kevin Long could be facing a World Cup face-off next month.

Vokes helped Wales secure maximum points during the latest round of qualifiers, with Tuesday night’s 2-0 win in Moldova taking Chris Coleman’s side up to second spot in Group D.

That was at the expense of Ireland, who lost for the first time in qualifying as leaders Serbia left Dublin with a 1-0 victory.

The result left Serbia odds-on to claim an automatic berth at Russia 2018 and Wales and Ireland facing the prospect of meeting in Cardiff on 9 October with the victors claiming a play-off place.

“Hopefully we have set ourselves up for a big finish,” said Walters, who captained an Ireland side missing the injured Jeff Hendrick but including Ward and Brady, with Long an unused substitute.

“There are two games to go and two wins needed. At least we know what we have to do.

“There is always belief. One thing is for sure, we will fight to the end.”

Ireland are at home to winless Moldova before the potentially big night in Cardiff, while Wales go to Georgia ahead of the likely group decider.

The other big result on Tuesday night saw Johann Berg Gudmundsson keep his World Cup hopes alive as Iceland bounced back from defeat in Finland to record a vital 2-0 win over Ukraine.

That lifted Iceland above Ukraine into second place in Group I – level on points with leaders Croatia – with games at third-placed Turkey and at home to bottom side Kosovo to come.

Meanwhile, Conor Mitchell is continuing to make a positive impression on under-21 duty with Northern Ireland.

The Clarets’ goalkeeper, currently on loan at Chester FC, has helped his country take six points from their opening three European Championship qualifiers and turned in a man-of-the-match performance in a 1-0 defeat in Slovakia on Tuesday night.

“I thought he was outstanding,” said under-21s boss Ian Baraclough.

“It's the first time he's really been called on over the three games but he was probably the pick of our players tonight if truth be known.”


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