Bookies bullish despite Ireland's exit

CHRISTIAN ERIKSEN’S hat-trick killed off Ireland’s chances of reaching Russia 2018 but bookmakers are putting on a brave face after the great Dane’s intervention.

Irish firm BoyleSports admit there is likely to be some impact on their World Cup turnover but they still expect interest to increase once the shock of Ireland’s elimination wears off.

Spokeswoman Aoife Heffron said an Irish World Cup win would have been the worst result in their book: “Overall we expect turnover to be steady. However, it is a hit that Ireland are out of the tournament as turnover for both playoff games was at a record high.”

Paddy Power’s Lee Price agreed, saying: “We would always want to have Ireland on board for the World Cup, but we don’t envisage any major impact on turnover.”

Wayne Lincoln of spread firm Sporting Index summed up the views of other firms when he said England are the key team bookmakers need to be playing at the finals: “It is all about England for us. Fans of Ireland, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland will now be getting stuck in betting against England.”

Peter Spencer of Betfred said they are concerned about the effect of turnover on group matches: “It will make a pretty big difference in the group stage. At the Euros we saw huge turnover on England, Ireland, Wales and Northern Ireland's matches which we will miss in the World Cup.”

Losing a big game by such a wide margin has called into question Martin O’Neill’s future as Ireland manager.

O'Neill is 3-4 with Ladbrokes to leave his post before Christmas and 5-6 with Coral to have departed before the start of the Euro 2020 qualifiers (he is also 5-6 to stay).

However, his chances of staying are rated much better by BoyleSports, who go 1-2 that he remains in control for the start of Euro 2020 qualifying and 6-4 he doesn't.

Bet365 have reported support for France and have shortened Les Bleus from 12-1 to 5-1 since opening their World Cup book. The firm have cut Denmark from 200-1 to 100-1 since their 5-1 second-leg victory in Dublin on Tuesday.

Italy are searching for a new manager after Gian Piero Ventura revealed his intention to resign after the Azzurri failed to qualify for a World Cup for the first time since 1958.

Carlo Ancelotti is reportedly high on the wanted list of the Italian FA and is a 6-4 favourite in Coral's next Italy manager market. Antonio Conte and Roberto Mancini are 5-1 shots and Massimiliano Allegri is a 9-1 chance.

Italy's conquerors Sweden have qualified for the first time since 2006, generating speculation that they might try to persuade Manchester United striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic to come out of international retirement.

Ibrahimovic last featured for the Swedes at Euro 2016 but is just evens with Coral to play at next summer's World Cup.

England started their preparations for the finals with a pair of encouraging 0-0 draws against Germany and Brazil but they remain seventh favourites.

Ladbrokes say they have taken the third-most bets on the Three Lions, while a couple of firms reported Iran as being the best-backed outsiders.

Coral are betting on England's stage of elimination and offer 13-10 that they fail to go beyond the group phase.

The battle for places in the final squad is intensifying after Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Joe Gomez picked up man-of-the-match awards following the respective matches against Germany and Brazil.

Loftus-Cheek is 13-8 with Betway to make the final cut while Gomez is 2-1.

Northern Ireland boss Michael O’Neill is assessing his options and has emerged as a strong contender to take over in the Scotland dugout after the Scottish FA made an official approach.

O’Neill is Coral's 4-6 favourite to be the long-term successor to Gordon Strachan, while Paul Lambert and Alex McLeish are 11-4 and 5-1.

Everton have reportedly identified Watford gaffer Marco Silva as their first choice to take over as their new manager but face resistance from the Hertfordshire club, who are refusing to allow talks to take place.

Silva is vying with Toffees’ caretaker-manager David Unsworth for favouritism in the next Everton manager book but Sam Allardyce is on the drift after ruling himself out.

Match in Focus

12:30 Sa 16Dec SKY

Leicester v C Palace

Home Win Draw Away Win
Expert verdict
There has been plenty of late drama for Palace in their last two matches, but what is still missing for the Eagles is an away goal. Eight road trips have yielded two points and not one goal and Leicester look a decent price to make this another fruitless trip for Palace. The Foxes have won their last four, scoring ten goals.



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