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Nations League - Football: Scotland v Republic of Ireland preview

Scotland will be hoping to move a step closer to League A of the Nations League when they play host to the Republic of Ireland on Saturday evening.

Wednesday's 3-0 home victory over Ukraine lifted the Scots to top spot in Group B1 on nine points, two clear of The Blue and Yellow with two games remaining.

Ireland occupy third position, five points off the pool leaders and one clear of fourth-placed Armenia, so all four teams still have a lot to play for.

What

Scotland v Republic of Ireland, Nations League Group B1

Where

Hampden Park, Glasgow

When

19:45, Saturday 24th September

How to watch

Premier Sports 1

Odds

Scotland 1/1, draw 11/5, Republic of Ireland 3/1

All on the line

It was a tough time for Scotland in the summer, as they failed to qualify for World Cup 2022, but they have managed to dust themselves off and have won three of their four Nations League matches.

Two of those victories came against Armenia - 2-0 and 4-1 triumphs - while the other three points came via Wednesday's 3-0 defeat of Ukraine, a result that has put Steve Clarke's men in the driving seat for promotion to League A.

However, the Scots know any slip-up would allow Ukraine the chance to overhaul them and Ireland the opportunity to close the gap heading into the final group games, and the Tartan Army know all too well of the threat that Saturday's opponents possess.

Stephen Kenny's side romped to a 3-0 victory against Scotland back in June at the Aviva Stadium, with Alan Browne, Troy Parrott and Michael Obafemi all getting on the scoresheet.

The Irish drew 1-1 with Ukraine following that comfortable victory and they will be eager to chalk up another three points to keep their promotion hopes alive and also likely ensure their safety from relegation.

Scots to exact revenge

That 3-0 loss Scotland suffered at the hands of the Irish will still sting to this day, but Clarke's troops look in a much better position heading into Saturday's reverse and a victory, priced at 1/1, could be on the cards.

It was a battling performance from the Scots for much of Wednesday's win over Ukraine but the 70th-minute strike from John McGinn really opened the game up and Lyndon Dykes grabbed a brace to put some gloss on the win.

Dykes and fellow second-half substitute Ryan Fraser really impressed when brought on with the score at 1-0 and the duo have put forward their claims for a place in the starting XI on Saturday.

Scotland have suffered just one defeat from their last seven home matches and they should have enough to get the better of an Ireland side that lost 1-0 in Armenia in their Nations League opener.

Clarke's side have also had the benefit of playing a competitive match on Wednesday, something Ireland haven't done since June and there is the worry they will take a bit of time to get going.

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McGinn to mark milestone in perfect way

It may have been a tough start to the season for McGinn with Aston Villa, but the midfielder was back to his best for his country on Wednesday and he is preparing to earn his 50th cap on Saturday.

The 27-year-old is a busy player for the Scots, offering quality in both defence and attack, and this was evident with his strike in the 3-0 success over Ukraine.

McGinn's goal broke the deadlock and provided his side with the platform to go on and pick off Ukraine, who were forced to commit more players forward in search of an equaliser.

The Villa captain has scored on his last two outings for Scotland and he is 4/1 to find the back of the net anytime against Ireland, while he is 10/1 to open the scoring for the second game running.

McClean to catch referee's eye

There is sure to be a raucous atmosphere at Hampden Park and the pressure will be on the Irish players to cope with the partisan crowd cheering against them.

One player that has proven to be quite divisive in his career is James McClean, who is not one to shy away from a challenge and enjoys getting stuck in.

The 33-year-old often plays at left-back or left wing-back for his country and he could be in for a difficult evening in Glasgow, especially if Newcastle speedster Fraser is given a chance to impress.

McClean is expected to have his fair share of defending to do throughout the contest and it would be no surprise to see him end up in the referee's notebook at odds of 2/1.

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