Leeds United duo on verge of World Cup place

Stuart Dallas and Pontus Jansson are set to appear in the World Cup qualifying play-offs next month after Northern Ireland and Sweden lined up second place in their respective groups over the weekend.

Monday, 9th October 2017, 1:25 pm
Updated Tuesday, 12th December 2017, 10:18 am
Leeds United and Northern Ireland's Stuart Dallas (left) and Norway's Tore Reginiussen in action during the 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifying Group C match at the Ullevaal Stadion, Oslo. (Picture: Martin Rickett/PA Wire)

Dallas and Northern Ireland signed off their qualifying campaign with defeats to Germany and Norway but will be in the hat for the play-off draw on October 17 having finished behind World Cup holders Germany in Group C.

The Leeds United winger appeared as a half-time substitute against Germany but played for 90 minutes in a 1-0 loss to Norway in Oslo yesterday.

Centre-back Jansson was forced to miss Sweden’s matches against Luxembourg and the Netherlands with a badly bruised arm sustained in Leeds’ defeat to Sheffield Wednesday before the international break.

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Northern Ireland's Stuart Dallas (left) and Norway's Jonas Svensson battle for the ball (Picture: Martin Rickett/PA Wire)

Jansson was sent for scans on the injury last week but did not sustain serious damage and is expected to be in contention for Reading’s visit to Elland Road this Saturday.

In his absence, Sweden routed Luxembourg 8-0 to leave Holland needing a mathematical miracle during this evening’s game against Sweden in Amsterdam.

United midfielder Eunan O’Kane’s chances of featuring at the World Cup hinge on tonight’s clash between the Republic of Ireland and Wales in Cardiff, a match which will decide the play-off spot in Group D.

O’Kane was an unused substitute as the Republic beat Moldova 2-0 last Friday.

Northern Ireland's Stuart Dallas (left) and Norway's Jonas Svensson battle for the ball (Picture: Martin Rickett/PA Wire)

Club captain Liam Cooper, however, failed to win a first Scotland cap and will not be present in Russia next summer after last night’s 2-2 draw with Slovenia in Ljubljana ended the Scots’ chances of qualifying.

Macedonia also fell short of qualification but Leeds winger Gjanni Alioski helped the nation to a 1-1 draw with Italy last week. Macedonia’s campaign ends at home to Liechtenstein this evening.

Jay-Roy Grot featured for Holland’s Under-20s in a 1-0 defeat to Germany last Thursday while Conor Shaughnessy is looking for a first Republic of Ireland Under-21 cap against Israel today after sitting on the bench throughout a 0-0 draw with Norway.