The Republic of Ireland have received a big boost with the news that Gareth Bale has been ruled out of Wales final two World Cup qualifiers.
The Real Madrid star will sit out the Welsh game against Georgia in Tbilisi on Friday, and next week’s Group D showdown with Ireland in Cardiff.
Bale missed Real Madrid’s game against Espanyol at the weekend with a calf problem, but he is now said to be suffering from a hamstring injury.
His fitness had been in doubt since limping out of last week’s Champions League win over Borussia Dortmund.
Bale’s absence could lead to a first start for Liverpool teenager Ben Woodburn.
The 17-year-old came off the bench to score the winner against Austria last month.
Ireland train in Abbotstown again today as the countdown continues to Friday’s match against Moldova at the Aviva Stadium.
There are fitness concerns about a number of players, with Harry Arter, James McCarthy and David McGoldrick among those nursing knocks.
Manager Martin O’Neil insists new strikers Scott Hogan, Sean Maguire and Aiden O’Brien have a chance to start.
Irish fans have been reacting to the news on Twitter.
Gareth Bale ruled out of the weekend's qualifiers. Scenes in Ireland right now. pic.twitter.com/gYdedwGjlM
— Paddy Power (@paddypower) October 3, 2017
— Irish Football Pics (@irish_pics) October 3, 2017