STOKE CITY’S Irish contingent will get their first glimpse of new Potters team-mate Marko Arnautovic in Vienna tomorrow as Austria play host to the Republic of Ireland in a crucial World Cup qualifier.
Both sides know anything less than a win will all but end their hopes of reaching the showpiece finals in Brazil next year, with Germany and Sweden extending their gap at the top of Group C with victories on Friday.
Arnautovic played 67 minutes of Austria’s 3-0 defeat to rivals Germany in Munich whilst Jonathan Walters, Glenn Whelan and Marc Wilson suffered an agonising 2-1 defeat in Dublin to Sweden.
Walters, who played over an hour at the Aviva Stadium, faces a late fitness test after a scan on his ankle whilst Whelan is definitely ruled out with a hamstring injury.
Meanwhile, Geoff Cameron and his United States compatriots were forced to wait for confirmation of their place at next summer’s tournament following a 3-1 defeat against group leaders Costa Rica.
Despite the loss, Jurgen Klinsmann’s side still looked primed to secure an automatic qualification birth and could rubber stamp this on Tuesday night when they host struggling Mexico in Columbus, Ohio.
Cameron won’t feature in the clash, however, after picking up a one-match suspension in the weekend’s loss meaning he prematurely returns to the Potteries, as does Charlie Adam who withdrew from the Scotland squad to an injury.
The former Liverpool star played no part in their 2-0 defeat against Belgium at Hampden Park on Friday and will now also miss the game against Macedonia in Skopje.
It was also a frustrating weekend for Asmir Begovic as Bosnia-Herzegovina let slip their three point lead at the top of Group G following a shock 1-0 home defeat against Slovakia.
The Eastern Europeans, who despite their loss, remain top ahead of Greece on goal difference and will be desperate to avenge the result in the return fixture in Zilina this week.
Elsewhere, Kenwyne Jones’s tenth goal for Trinidad & Tobago proved to be in vain as they succumbed to a 7-6 penalty shoot out defeat to the United Arab Emirates following a thrilling 3-3 draw in Saudi Arabia.
Jones struck from the penalty spot in the 87th minute to help the Soca Warriors come back from 3-0 down to take the tie to extra-time in the 2013 OSN Cup. They face the Saudi hosts in a ‘Bronze Final’ later today.
Finally, Jack Butland and Marc Muniesa were both on winning sides when they represented their respective countries at Under-21 level.
Goalkeeper Butland played the full ninety minutes during Gareth Southgate’s first game in charge of England as they beat Moldova 1-0 at the Madeski Stadium and has now travelled to Finland for tonight’s second UEFA Under-21 Championship Group 1 qualifier.
Muniesa featured for 56 minutes in Spain’s 6-2 win away in Austria in Group 4, who host Albania later tonight.