If there was any man that should’ve been inspired by Adam Lallana’s 95th minute winner for England last night, it’s Ireland’s Jeff Hendrick.
The similarities in terms of numbers between the two midfielders at international level is quite striking when you look at it.
The Liverpool winger’s goal in Trnava last night was his first strike for his country and it came on the occasion of his 27th cap. Amazingly Hendrick – who is still hunting his first international goal – will also pick up his 27th cap for Ireland should he start in Belgrade tonight.
Hendrick has become an integral part of Martin O’Neill’s Ireland set up of late and his excellent showing at Euro 2016 helped secure a big money (£10.5m) move to Burnley on transfer deadline day.
The Dubliner has been coming incredibly close to hitting the onion sack for Ireland – his smashing of the crossbar against Sweden immediately springs to mind.
So if you fancy him to emulate Lallana tonight, you can find him at odds of to hit the first goal or at to score anytime.
Given his sparkling Euros and delightful form of late, the fact that no club in the Premier League took a punt on Robbie Brady is a bit of a head scratcher.
For now he remains at Norwich City, but his wonderful free kick against Oman last Wednesday will have served as a reminder to all of the quality he possesses.
With his magic wand of a left foot seemingly in full working order with three goals in three for Ireland, Brady seems overpriced at in the first goal scorer market. He’s also at to score anytime.
It may of drew the ire of Ireland fans a little on Robbie Keane’s big send-off, but Jonathan Walters brace on Wednesday firmly wrestled the man of the match award out of Keane’s cold, dead hands.
The Stoke City striker has shown in recent times that he could be the man to fill the void left in the wake of Keane’s international retirement and has hit five goals in his last 10 competitive games.
His bully-boy tactics will be more than a match for what should be a physical Serbian defence and if you think he’ll be the one to opening the scoring, he’s at a nice price of .
Before you shout blue murder about this article ignoring the man who should lead the line for Ireland tonight – Shane Long – the fact of the matter is the stats suggest he just hasn’t been firing for of late.
Long hasn’t scored in six internationals – his last being against the Netherlands in a friendly in May – and he’s only hit the back of the net five times in his last 20 games for Ireland.
To be fair to Long, he did have to come off the bench in a lot of those matches, but a record of three strikes in his last 13 competitive games since the start of Euro 2016 qualifying doesn’t fill you with lot of hope.
Still if you think he’s ‘Long’ overdue (see what we did there) you can find him at to register on the scoreboard at any time tonight.
Having a quick glance at Ireland’s opponents, Serbia’s Aleksandar Mitrovic is their favourite at to score first followed by Filip Kostic of Hamburger SV at .
The danger man for Ireland though could be Chelsea’s Branislav Ivanovic. The defender has a frankly stunning record of goals for his country, with 11 goals in 87 caps.
Given his threat at set-pieces, he could be worth a punt at to score first or even a few quid at to net anytime.
Some of the bigger outsiders to score first in this game for Ireland include John O’Shea at , for Glenn Whelan or even Stephen Ward at .
No one will ever forget O’Shea’s last minute leveller in Gelsenkirchen, and – if he is fully recovered – he’s always a danger at Martin O’Neill’s beloved set-plays.
Stephen Ward showed his eye for goal in the recent friendly at Cork’s Turners Cross against Belarus, but it may take a minor miracle to see another Whelan goal for Ireland – given that his last one came as far back as 2009.