Fifa have confirmed that the play-off draw for the 2018 World Cup will be seeded.
In a statement by the governing body they said the eight teams will be split into two pots based on their FIFA World Ranking.
It will not affect which team is drawn home or away for the first leg.
That means that if Ireland win their final two group games and qualify for the play-offs as one of the eight best runners-up they will almost certainly not be one of the four seeded teams.
Whether teams are seeded or not depends on their Fifa ranking, with Ireland currently 29th in the world.
The top eight teams will be ranked with the results against the bottom team in their group are discounted. At present Wales, second in Group D, are the ninth placed play-off team. Northern Ireland have all but secured their play-off spot.
Should Martin O’Neill’s side seal an unlikely place in the play-offs, it means they could face a team of the calibre of Italy or Portugal, both of whom are likely to finish in second place in their respective groups.
Fifa also confirmed that the eight best runners-up would be determined by points, then goal difference, goals scored, goals scored away from home and disciplinary ranking, with results against the bottom-placed team discounted.
The draw will take place on 17 October with games between 9-14 November. The away goals rule will be in place.