Sunderland stars facing Euro 2016 play-off drama as Sweden, Scotland, Romania and Ireland battle for qualification

Ola Toivonen
Ola Toivonen
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Sweden, Scotland, Romania and Ireland’s hopes of qualifying for Euro 2016 hang in the balance - with several Sunderland stars involved in the action.

The nine group winners, nine group runners-up and the best third-placed side will qualify directly for next summer’s tournament in France, with the eight remaining third-placed teams contesting play-offs to determine the last four qualifiers for the finals.

Sebastian Larsson

Sebastian Larsson

With two rounds of games left to play, the hopes of several nations hang in the balance.

We take a look at the Sunderland players who could be facing the drama of the play-offs to qualify:

Sweden: Sebastian Larsson and Ola Toivonen

Seb Larsson featured for 90 minutes while Ola Toivonen was an unused sub as Sweden lost 4-1 at home to table toppers Austria in Group G.

The result leaves Sweden’s Euro qualification hopes hanging in the balance after Russia’s 7-0 victory over Liechtenstein which moved them second in group G, ahead of Sweden in third, with two games remaining.

The Swedes have 12 points, two points behind Russia in second and a point above Montenegro in fourth.

A tense October awaits when they face Liechtenstein away and Moldova at home.

Romania: Costel Pantilimon

Romania are well placed to secure their place at Euro 2016, they sit second in Group F a point behind leaders Northern Ireland, three points above third placed Hungary and six clear of Finland in fourth.

So, while automatic qualification is within their grasp, they could also find themselves in the play-offs where anything can happen.

They have drawn their last three group games too, with Pantilimon making just one appearances so far - against the Faroe Islands.

Next up is Finland (H) and Faroe Islands (A).

Scotland: Steven Fletcher

Even the most optimistic of Scots would admit the chances of the Tartan Army making an appearance in France next year are slim.

They are fourth, with 11 points, and four points behind third-placed Republic of Ireland, with two games to go

Germany and Poland lead the way and it will take some turnaround for Steven Fletcher’s Scotland to turn it around.

They face Poland (H) and Gibraltar (A) in October.

Fletcher can probably safely book his summer holidays.

Republic of Ireland: John O’Shea

The Republic of Ireland look set for a play-off battle to qualify for the tournament, sitting third behind Poland and Germany.

Sunderland’s John O’Shea - who started the 1-0 win over Georgia - has every chance of being in France next summer, with Ireland clear favourites to beat Scotland into third spot.

They could still qualify automatically but have a tough run-in.

Germany (H) and Poland (A) await them in October.

Holland: Jeremain Lens

Holland’s hopes of qualifying are just as bleak after their 3-0 defeat to Turkey left them fourth in Group A - two points behind third-place Turkey with just two games to go.

They can no longer qualify automatically, with Iceland and the Czech Republic going through.

They now face Kazakhstan (A) and the Czech Republic (H) in October, hoping they can better Turkey’s results and bag themselves a play-off spot.

Sunderland’s big summer signing Jeremain Lens was a late call up to the squad, the winger an unused sub in Turkey.