Having won all four of their fixtures to date, the Russians sit top of the group, five points ahead of nearest challengers Israel, whom they face next week.
The home nation have lost just one of their four fixtures, but three draws have left them in fourth position in the table, some nine points behind their opponents this week.
Both sides were in friendly action last month, with Northern Ireland picking up a 0-0 draw in Malta, while Russia make it four wins from their last five with a 2-0 success in Iceland.
Northern Ireland: LDDDD
Northern Ireland: Carroll; Cathcart, McAuley, Evans, Bruce; McCann, Brunt, Ferguson, Little; Ward, Paterson
Russia: Akinfeev; Anyukov, Ignahevich, A Berezutskiy, Eschenko, V Berezutskiy; Denisov, Shirokov, Bystrov, Faizulin; Kerzhakov
Sports Mole says: 1-3