The Republic of Ireland players know that home form in 2017 will determine if we qualify for the World Cup in Russia next year. Martin O'Neill's men are sitting pretty at the top of group D after four games going into tomorrow night's sold out qualifier with Wales at the Aviva Stadium. It will be the first of four home qualifiers for the Boys in Green between now and the end of the campaign in October.
Most of the build up this week has been about injuries to the squad and how can we stop their star man Gareth Bale. Wales are 12th in the FIFA world rankings and they reached the semi finals of Euro 2016 so I've heard plenty of people say this week that a draw would be a great result. A draw would be a good result but a win would be a great result and why can't we beat Wales.
The team hasn't lost a home qualifier since Martin O'Neill was appointed manager. Shane Long's winner against Germany in the last campaign has done wonders for this group of players who had drawn home games against Poland and Scotland before the win over the world champions. Sure there are plenty of more talented squads around Europe but one thing you're guaranteed with this Irish squad is their ability to scrap for everything.
Since O'Neill has taken charge we've beaten the likes of Germany, Italy and Bosnia and Herzegovina in competitive games so the players have more belief now which wasn't always the case in the last campaign. O'Neill will make us hard to beat and the home crowd will also be a factor tomorrow night. Irish football fans have been looking forward to this game for a while and Jon Walters said during the week that the players feed off the energy from the crowd. The Stoke striker also said it's up to the players to get the sell out crowd involved by performing on the pitch.
The Ireland manager is looking for a performance similar to the one against Italy last summer and he says the players coming into the team will be determined to prove their worth: