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Wednesday, 12 December, 2018

Uruguay to take advantage as Ireland ring the changes

Martin O'Neill is only interested in crunch clash with Austria

Uruguay's Edinson Cavani
1 of 1

International friendly
Eir Sport 1, 6pm Sunday

Luis Suarez won't be in Dublin but despite his absence Uruguay could still take advantage of Ireland's World Cup qualifying distractions at the Aviva Stadium.

"Austria is the be-all and end-all," said Ireland boss Martin O'Neill in reference to next week's crunch clash.

A makeshift Irish team with an experimental three-man defence were turned over 3-1 by Mexico in New York on Thursday and O'Neill's men did not return home until Friday afternoon, leaving little preparation time for this friendly against high-class opponents.

O'Neill's squad has been boosted by the arrival of the majority of his Premier League contingent, which is just as well after the Irish Independent called the performance against Mexico "shambolic".

But all eyes will be on the the competitive stuff, as is usually the case with Ireland, who have suffered defeat in three of their last four friendly matches to Belarus, Iceland and Mexico.

Uruguay have lost their last three World Cup qualifiers but away matches in Chile and Peru and a home game with Brazil was a tough schedule and the South Americans usually rise to the challenge of facing European opponents in friendly fixtures.

Since beating Ireland 3-2 in Dublin in 2011, Uruguay have played 14 friendlies against European nations with a record of of seven wins, five draws and only two losses, which came against Spain and Germany. They have beaten France and Italy during that time.

Edinson Cavani is the best player on show by an absolute mile and the Paris St-Germain hitman could shoot Uruguay to a positive result, while Atletico Madrid's ace centre-back Jose Gimenez should provide adequate cover for unavailable clubmate Diego Godin.

Uruguay draw no bet
1pt 4-5 BoyleSports

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Team news
Keiren Westwood, John O'Shea, Robbie Brady, Jeff Hendrick, Glenn Whelan, Harry Arter, Aiden McGeady, Jonny Hayes and Jonathan Walters have been added to the squad. Stephen Quinn is not match- fit and Stephen Gleeson is in Portugal for his wedding.

Luis Suarez, Diego Godin and first-choice goalkeeper Fernando Muslera are unavailable.

Key stat
Ireland have won only one of their last six friendlies and that victory came against Oman. 

The South Americans usually rise to the challenge of facing European opponents in friendly fixtures
E.W. Terms
Sky bet