Martin O'Neill urges players to seize the day in Cardiff

Shane Duffy and goalkeeper Darren Randolph dejected after Serbia score a goal

He's been missing and in my mind, he's as big a loss to us as Gareth Bale is to Wales.

Only another three points will be good enough for the Irish and their Welsh counterparts to remain in the hunt, and O'Neill is relishing the showdown at the Cardiff City Stadium.

"The turnaround for both teams is exactly the same and that's the point", he said.

Michael O'Neill's men are already guaranteed at least second place and as they now possess the second-best points tally they are all but certain to feature in the play-offs.

Callum O'Dowda (Republic of Ireland): At just 22, O'Dowda showed the promise that suggests that he could be one of the next stalwarts for the Republic of Ireland. Iceland7+3135. Slovakia7+6126. Sweden6+3107. Montenegro6+3108.

He added: "You're talking about two decent players coming back". He does not care about that now. The last man to do was Mullinavat native Matt O'Mahoney, who earned six caps for Ireland in the 1930s.

O'Dowda said that the Irish players were fully aware that they had to win after Wales' earlier 1-0 victory in Georgia. They were setting a punishing pace at the top of the group and began to slow down only when they lost their captain and best player, Seamus Coleman, to a broken leg following Neil Taylor's tackle during the 0-0 home draw with Wales in March. I'm delighted, I've enjoyed it immensely. global football was something that i didn't know whether you'd get used to it or not.

But concerns did emerge from the win: Shane Long's confidence has clearly been hit by his goal starvation and a goal, any goal, would have been a big boost to him (and Ireland) ahead of that test in Cardiff, where opposing defenders will not be as generous as Moldova were last night.

"It is a tough test, don't get me wrong, because they have got players in their side who are capable of things that our team are not". Shane Long said to me on the way in that "he can't buy a goal".

Let's hope it doesn't cost us.

"But we did that against Austria and Moldova in our past two fixtures when we kept our nerve to win in what were seriously high-pressure situations".

Infact the biggest cheer from the support in the second half came with the introduction of former Cork City man, Sean Maguire who was brought on for an out of form Shane Long with 10 minutes to go, his worldwide debut almost a year since he last played at the Aviva Stadium, when he scored in the 2016 FAI Cup final.