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Rupert Wyman 7th Oct 2010 - 17:41

Eur on to a winner with the home nations

Wales v Bulgaria

Brian Flynn takes charge of the Wales senior team for the first time against Bulgaria with a chance to stake his claim for the job on a full-time basis.  Flynn has been given two games to impress - this game in Cardiff followed by his side's trip to Basel to face Switzerland next Tuesday.

The former Wrexham boss has been involved in the international setup since 2004 and has been responsible for bringing some of the younger players through to the current senior squad whilst manager of the Under 21 side. The players seem to favour his methods to the more defensive style of John Toshack and their support could prove crucial when they meet Bulgaria. I fancy Wales to sneak this 1-0 (6/1).

The home side need to win their games in Cardiff to have any hopes of qualifying and after defeat to Montengro I expect them to bounce back with a win and that should mean Flynn will be named permanent manager sometime next week.

I think the best bet for this one is Wales to be winning at half time and full time in our double result market at 100/30.

Republic of Ireland v Russia

The Republic of Ireland can take a big step towards Euro 2012 qualification when they meet Russia on Friday. Russia arrive in Dublin on the back of a home defeat to Slovakia and will be under pressure to avoid another loss which would leave them six points behind the Irish in the early group table.

Arguably Russia's best player Roman Pavlyuchenko is ruled out which should boost the Irish hopes. Giovanni Trapattoni has named an unchanged team as they look to make it three straight wins and a home win looks on the cards in Dublin.

Ireland will line up as follows - Given, O'Shea, Dunne, St Ledger, Kilbane, Lawrence, Whelan, Green, McGeady, Keane, Doyle.

I fancy Robbie Keane to open the scoring (5/1) and Ireland to win 2-0 (11/1). The scorecast pays a whopping 50/1

Czech Republic v Scotland

Scotland face something of an injury crisis ahead of their game with the Czech Republic.

They are without Kirk Broadfoot, Jay McEveley, Scott Brown, James McFadden, Paul Hartley and Kevin Thomson. Meanwhile Alan Hutton is struggling with a groin problem, Allan McGregor is troubled by a thigh injury whilst defender Steven Whittaker is also a doubt. Midfielder Lee McCulloch is suspended.

Despite the injuries Scotland can go into the game with little to fear from their hosts. The Czech's lost last time out at home to Lithuania and are already four points behind the Scots in the group table.

I expect this to be a tight affair and the visitors would be happy with a point. It should be a low scoring game so 0-0 at odds of 15/2 could be the bet.

Northern Ireland v Italy

Italy have bounced back from their World Cup humiliation with two wins from two games in Group C but could find Northern Ireland a tough nut to crack at Windsor Park.

The Italians have beaten minnows Estonia and Faroe Islands to date but this could be the toughest test they will face in a group containing many of the lesser lights of European football.

Northern Ireland pulled off a great result to win in Slovenia and will be full of confidence. They know how to beat the big teams having caused a few surprises at Windsor Park in recent times, Spain and England both falling to defeat in Belfast. The Italians will need to be on their guard to avoid joining those teams and I think a draw would be not disaster for the Azzurri.

I fancy the draw (11/5) but would not rule out a Northern Ireland win (9/2) so my bet would be to back the home side on the handicap of +1 at odds of 21/20.

With a bit of luck I think all the home nations could get at least a point so our Match Winner Special of all the teams to avoid defeat at 10/1 could well be worth a punt.


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