northern ireland football
Northern Ireland undergo a training session at the Cardiff City stadium ahead of the gameReuters

Both Wales and Northern Ireland made history as they sealed their berth in the Euro 2016 last year and the two football nations will be pitted against each other for the 95th time at the Cardiff City Stadium Thursday. The fixture makes a mouthwatering reading but there will be the absence of one influential name -- Gareth Bale.

The Real Madrid winger has been left out of the Wales squad owing to a long-term calf injury. Besides Bale, another star name, Aaron Ramsey is also unavailable to take part in the game for the hosts. The Arsenal midfielder is recuperating from a thigh injury.

One of the highlights of the mouthwatering derby may have remained these two star footballers but there are enough other players who can make the match come out as a classic. Besides Bale and Ramsey, Ben Davies and Hal Robson-Kanu are also among the injury list for Wales.

However, this also is an opportunity for the other players to step up and make a name for themselves. "We've got a few [players] missing but that gives us a chance with some of the other lads that have either had no experience before or very little," Wales boss Chris Coleman told the BBC.

"When we picked this squad and we had quite a few pull-outs it wasn't that disappointing because we get to see one or two new faces, and they'll get their chance."

Wales ended a 57-year wait to qualify for a major football tournament last October. Northern Ireland too qualified for the UEFA European Championship finals for the first time in history after defeating Greece in a group game last year.

The clash between these two sides will definitely therefore be one to watch as the two sides look for a perfect warm-up to the big competition ahead. However, there is something still troubling Northern Ireland boss Michael O'Neill -- the absence of Gareth Bale in the match.

"It would have been great if Bale would have been able to play," O'Neill said. "From our point of view, in preparation for the Euros, we know when we go to France we're going to play against some very good teams and we're going to play against some teams with exceptional individual players, which obviously Gareth Bale is.

"Aaron Ramsey comes into that category as well. It would have been good for our preparation to have to have to deal with that. I'm sure the players coming in will stake their claim for an opportunity in the summer."

Northern Ireland, meanwhile, are also without defender Chris Baird and midfielder Chris Brunt.

Where to watch live

Wales vs Northern Ireland is scheduled to kick-off at 7:45 p.m. GMT (1:15 a.m. IST, 3:45 p.m. EST) March 24.

There is no broadcast of the game in India.

Audience in the UK can catch the TV broadcast on BBC Two Wales and BBC Two Northern Ireland. Radio commentary is also available on BBC Radio 5 Live and BBC Radio Wales.

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