The expansion of the qualification process for Euro 2016 has placed the finals within touching distance of the home nations, but will Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland be joining England in France?
The short answer is of course; hopefully. Realistically however, there is much work to be done and of the other teams besides Roy Hodgson’s 1/50 Group E certs, it’s Wales who we’ll be backing to make a first major tournament since 1976 at 13/8.
Unfortunately for fans of 7/1 shots Northern Ireland, Michael O’Neill’s strugglers of the 2014 World Cup campaign process look to have an insurmountable hill to climb given their thin squad resources once more.
They may have avoided a recognised superpower in Group F, but all three of Greece, Romania and Hungary alongside them amassed at least 10 more points than the Green and White Army during Brazil-based qualification.
Scotland and the Republic of Ireland make intriguing bets at 6/4 apiece, though being pitched together in Group A means it could well be one or the other who get through.
World champions Germany should stroll it, while thorny customers Poland are bound to have their say in the struggle for the second automatic berth.
Given only the best third-placed team from the eight UEFA groups qualify automatically, Group A looks unlikely to be the one which provides it, meaning aside from one of Scotland or Ireland edging out Poland, a play-off would still await them.
This leaves the so-called golden generation of Welsh talent as the nation to invest in.
Situated in Group B where World Cup quarter-finalists Belgium and a Bosnia side who also made it to Brazil will be expected to occupy the top slots.
Chris Coleman will therefore be looking at results against Israel as the keys to successfully claiming third and a shot at automatic qualification or at least a play-off place.
Cyprus and first opponents Andorra must be considered as the richest source of points for Wales in the group.
On paper, if they are all fit a team containing Ashley Williams and Ben Davies in defence, with fellow Premier League stars Joe Ledley, Joe Allen and Aaron Ramsey in midfield and a certain Gareth Bale up front, should even be capable of beating Bosnia on their day.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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