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No magic expected from Belarus boys

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Belarus' Alexander Hleb (l) Photo: REUTERS

Belarus' Alexander Hleb (l) Photo: REUTERS

REUTERS

Belarus' Alexander Hleb (l) Photo: REUTERS

In Ireland's last outing before the Euro 2012 finals, the most remarkable aspect was the weather, as Ireland played out a 0-0 draw with Hungary in Budapest against the backdrop of a torrential downpour and thunderstorm which at one stage left the conclusion of the game in doubt.

Anyone expecting thunder and excitement in Cork tonight will probably go home disappointed.

Martin O'Neill really will have, before the 7.45pm kick-off, made up his mind on the composition of his 23-man squad for the finals and the Belarus game in Cork tonight is more a case of players potentially missing out due to injury, instead of the possibility of a Callum O'Dowda playing so well against the boys from Minsk that he wins a last-minute reprieve and a seat on the plane.

In Dublin last Friday, Holland played as if they didn't want to be there and Belarus, truth be told, don't really want to be in Cork at this stage of the year. An injury sustained by Spanish-based defender Yegor Filipenko in Friday's defeat to Northern Ireland in Belfast leaves their manager, the 42-year-old Aleksander Khatskevich, with only 14 fit outfield players for tonight's game.

With most players drawn from the Russian and Belarussian leagues, Belarus lack the class needed to make an impact, though former Arsenal man Aleksander Hleb, now 35, is still around. The side is weak enough, though they were unbeaten in five games before that loss in Belfast.

BELARUS (probable):

Gorbunov (Atromitos, Greece); Shitov (Mordovia Saransk, Russia), Martynovich (Ural, Russia), Palitsevich (Gençlerbirligi, Turkey), Volodko (BATE); Korzun (D Kiev), Krivetz (Metz), Kislyak (Rubin Kazan), Stasevich (BATE), Yanush (Shakhtyor Soligursk), Gordeychuk (BATE).