RTÉ Soccer analyst Liam Brady expects Martin O'Neill to deploy Wes Hoolahan in the Republic of Ireland team tonight against Wales in Cardiff.

There is plenty of speculation on which starting XI O’Neill will opt for, and Friday’s game with Moldova has added to the debate for this crucial encounter.

As always, much of the talk surrounds Wes Hoolahan. This time Brady feels the Irish boss will look to the Norwich City man from the start.  

He told RTÉ Radio's Morning Ireland: "To second guess Martin O'Neill is very, very difficult. I would say Callum O'Dowda will come out of the team. He is an inexperienced player although he did very well in his first competitive start. I think he is one for the future and not for tonight.

"I see James McClean coming in for him. Robbie Brady is another matter. If you want to bring him in as an extra midfield player, you probably take away one of the strikers, with that being Murphy or Long.

"If you want to really be brave, in my opinion, you put Brady in at left-back for Stephen Ward. Ward hasn't done much wrong. He's played very well. He made the second goal for us on Friday night.

"But I think Robbie Brady gives us that much more and he plays well at left-back. That would be the brave call. I hope he plays Wes Hoolahan. I think he will.

"He took him off with 20 minutes to go the other night for a reason. What he said before the game was we had to give Wesley the ball because Wesley make us play. He does and it probably has taken Martin a bit too long to agree with that. If he doesn't play him tonight I'll be worried."

Brady is keen for Ireland to keep their discipline in what's likely to be a fiery atmosphere. He wants Ireland to keep their heads tonight.

"The likes of James McClean who can be a bit fiery at times has to watch himself and our two centre backs as well. We want to keep XI guys on the park.

"We've got to watch Aaron Ramsay because he can steal in and score goals. He's a good finisher from midfield. But we've got to watch him. It's going to be a very tight and tense game."

So how will it go? The entire campaign rests on this one game.

Brady feels the lack of Gareth Bale for the home side gives Ireland a chance.

"I'm kind of confident. I'm a bit nervous. There is so much to play for. The fact Bale is not playing is huge for us," he said.

"It's like playing Kilkenny without Henry Shefflin or the Irish rugby team without Brian O'Driscoll. I think the face that Bale isn't there really evens things out.

"It's going to be a very, very tight game. I can't see there being many goals. If we're going to win it, it's probably going to be 1-0. It's probably going to be a really physical game too. We have to keep our heads.

"It could be a moment of magic from Hoolahan.

"But it's going to be very, very tight and one goal either way. There is not much between the two sides."