Fitness boost means Ireland's beacon of hope is ready to lead us to a long overdue World Cup 2 years ago

Fitness boost means Ireland's beacon of hope is ready to lead us to a long overdue World Cup

We have reached a crossroads.

The right turn leads Ireland on a road to Russia, six points out of six means that we will have a straightforward path to the World Cup.

All Ireland will have to do is beat Moldova at home and then not worry about the Wales away game, a victory lap.

The other road is less certain, a win against Georgia and a draw to Serbia leaves Ireland with it all to do and a loss against our fellow group leaders means that we could be destined for the playoffs and bring those lagging behind into the equation.

It has been a mixed bag at the start of this season, although Robbie Brady may be in fine form his fellow teammate Jeff Hendrick is out injured and not included in the squad.

The former Derby player was undoubtedly Ireland's standout player at Euro 2016 and is a big blow, James McCarthy is also out injured and Leeds' Eunan O'Kane too.

Bit by bit the squad is looking depleted, Seamus Coleman is, of course, still rehabilitating after the nasty injury he suffered at the hands of Neil Taylor during the Wales game.

The side needed a new leader and Jonathan Walters stepped up to the mark in an international friend against Uruguay, donning the captain's armband only for Glenn Whelan to lead out the side against Austria.

But what transpired in that all important match was that Walters came up with a moment of brilliance when nobody else could, a stunning goal when it looked like a loss was on the cards.

The Burnley player then nearly played a crucial part in securing a winner when it was disallowed,

When nothing was going Ireland's way he stepped up.

But it looked like he could be joining the long injury list after sitting out training during the week, and then the good news came.

Two days before the crunch away match against Georgia the full squad trained and that included the 33-year-old and he was joined by another veteran.

John O'Shea also got through training without any niggling injuries recurring.

After all the doom and gloom this is exactly the news that Ireland needed to hear coming into the weekend.

It has been a long time since Ireland qualified for a World Cup, 2002 was the last time and now represents our best chance to qualify since Thierry Henry pretty much robbed Ireland of a place at the 2010 World Cup.

It's now time to go for the jugular, dare to dream and Jonathan Walters is the man to help us do just that.