doc

SAINTS men on international duty face crucial World Cup qualifiers ahead of returning to Staplewood later this week.

Ryan Bertrand and England face a crunch qualifier against Slovakia this evening at Wembley.

After the 4-0 win over Malta, during which Bertrand netted his first international goal, Gareth Southgate's side still have plenty of work to do to book their place at the finals in Russia next summer.

A defeat tonight would see their opponents head to the top of Group F and in to only the only automatic qualifaction place, with two games to play.

Steven Davis and Northern Ireland, meanwhile, need only a point against the Czech Republic tonight at Windsor Park to secure second place in Group C behind leaders Germany.

Despite this, Davis wants Northern Ireland, who have a perfect record in this World Cup's qualifiers at home, to go all-out for a famous win.

"Our mentality is to approach every game wanting to win it and that won't change this time," he said.

"We are expecting a difficult test and even though a point will ensure us second place, we'll be going for the win.

"I'm sure Windsor will be bouncing and hopefully with that energy inside the ground we can make it a special night.

"We're in a very good position in the group. If you had offered it to us at the start of the campaign we'd have grabbed it with both hands.

"The ball's in our own court, this is a great game for us to have, we have everything to play for and we are all looking forward to another big night at Windsor."

Davis scored from the penalty spot, along with two goals from Josh Magennis, as Northern Ireland clinched a 3-0 win over minnows San Marino on Friday night.

O’Neill’s side followed up previous triumphs over Norway, New Zealand and Azerbaijan.

No other Northern Irish side has ever pieced together such a sequence, and only three have ever featured at a World Cup finals, but the current crop are in a fine position to follow the teams of 1958, 1982 and 1986.

Dusan Tadic helped Serbia at the top of Group D as they secured a 3-0 home win over Moldova.

Tadic played 66 minutes before being replaced by Adem Ljajic.

Also in Group D, Shane Long played 90 minutes for the Republic of Ireland as they settled for a point against Georgia in Tbilisi.

Tadic and Long now prepare to go head-to-head tomorrow night at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin in a very important game.

The winner of this game will top Group D and put themselves in pole position for qualification with two games remaining.

Ireland currently sit two points below leaders Serbia.

After a 4-0 thumping at the hands of France, Saints new boy Wesley Hoedt and the Netherlands kept their World Cup hopes alive with a 3-1 victory over Bulgaria.

The centre-back played the full game in this vital win.

Cedric Soares also played 90 minutes, helping Portugal keep the pressure on Group B leaders Switzerland, winning 1-0 away to Hungary.

Cedric and Hoedt will now return to Saints while their team-mates complete their international games.

Manolo Gabbiadini was a late substitute for Italy as they lost 3-0 to Spain, losing their first 2018 qualifier in the process.

Gabbiadini replaced Ciro Immobile with ten minutes left with his side already trailing by three goals.

The Italians now prepare to face Israel tomorrow night as they look to push for one of the top runners up places, which will secure a place in the play-offs for a chance to go to Russia.

Saints record signing Mario Lemina played the full match as Gabon fell to a 3-0 defeat to Ivory Coast in Libreville.

The result leaves Gabon in third place with no wins after three games.

Lemina and co will face Ivory Coast again in Bouake tomorrow night.