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All the information you need to know about the upcoming international friendly
Ireland face England on Thursday in what will be the first meeting between the two sides since 2015. That match ended in a scoreless draw between the two historical rivals. Hopefully there’ll be more entertainment on display this time around.
England will probably fancy their chances against a lowly Ireland. Stephen Kenny is yet to gather a win as Ireland manager, despite showing signs of promise on occasion. Although “just” a friendly, an impressive result for the Ireland manager would ease the concern amongst some Ireland supporters.
England, as much as some may not want to admit, have a far better side on paper than Ireland. The forward areas in particular are an area of concern for the Boys in Green. The retirement of David McGoldrick only weakens the squad further, also. Ireland have Adam Idah, James Collins and Sean Maguire as the only striking options currently available in the Ireland squad. Although Idah is a great prospect, he haven’t established themselves as prolific goalscorers to date. James Collins, on the other hand, is a proven goalscorer. That being said, the Luton striker is yet to be tested at the highest level. He may also lack the mobility up front that Stephen Kenny seems to favour. Sean Maguire and Adam Idah will porbably start up front with that being said.
Compare this to England, who have an abundance of riches in terms of forwards. Harry Kane, Dominic Calvert-Lewin, Tammy Abraham and Marcus Rashford – although normally deployed as a left winger nowadays – are the striking options available to Gareth Southgate. Kane and Calvert-Lewin in particular have started the season in fine form. The pair have scored 15 Premier League goals between each other already.
Along with their striking options, England have a profusion of in-form players in other positions. Jack Grealish is one name that springs to mind – especially as a former Ireland international. The Aston Villa man has been in incredible form since the start of the season. His performances against Liverpool and more recently Arsenal, were nothing short of breath-taking.
Gareth Southgate doesn’t appear to rate Grealish all that highly, though. The England manager has suggested that he’s moving up the pecking order as his goal contributions are nearing the level of Marcus Rashford and Raheem Sterling. This is despite Grealish amassing more goal contributions this season than the two aforementioned players. Whether Grealish starts or not come Thursday will be a huge topic of discussion within the British media and public.
Southgate on Grealish:
“When I’ve talked to him about the next level for his game, when he looks at the numbers that Sterling and Rashford as wide players have contributed, he’s now starting to do that…and threaten the goal more. He’s moving further up our list of players.” pic.twitter.com/LD2hwnvcGA
— SPORTbible (@sportbible) November 6, 2020
The friendly is being played ahead of each country’s final fixtures in the current Nations League campaign. Both teams sit 3rd in their respective groups, but under very different circumstances.
Ireland will be playing for pride as they sit on a dismal 2 points after 4 games. All they can do now is try to avoid relegation from League B to League C. Bulgaria currently sit 4th on just 1 point, meaning they’re the relegation candidates as it stands. Both teams will play each other on the 18th of November in the final game of the campaign. A match which will determine which teams suffers the fate of relegation to League C.
England, on the other hand, are in a more enviable position. They have amassed 7 points from 4 games, sitting just 2 points behind table leaders, Belgium. England will play Belgium in the penultimate game of the group before facing Iceland. The outcome of the Belgium match is particularly important for England as they look to make the Nations League finals. Only the League A group leaders make the finals, meaning anything but a win for England in that game put their qualification hopes in serious doubt.
England may be forced to forfeit their game against Iceland, though. Iceland are set to face Denmark – although it may be called off – where a new strain of the coronavirus has appeared recently. The UK government will not allow the Iceland team to enter the country if they step foot in Denmark, meaning the fixture is in doubt.
Ireland had their struggles with coronavirus related absences during their last string of fixtures. That trend has continued into this international break as Ireland are without Callum Robinson due to the virus. Thankfully though, no close contacts have been identified. All other players tested negative for the virus.
A knee injury has also ruled out Enda Stevens. Ireland have many options at left back, but only one of those options is natural in the position. Recently called up Ryan Manning – although initially a midfielder – has been re-trained as a left back over the last year. However, he won’t be available for the England game. That being said, Kenny could also choose Matt Doherty or Dara O’Shea who have played left back in the past. Additionally, Robbie Brady may also start in that position as he has done for Ireland in the past. Brady being left footed would also be ideal for the position, however his defensive capabilities may be called into question.
Aaron Connolly will also miss out on the 3 upcoming fixtures due to an injury sustained in training on Tuesday. The replacement chosen was Sean Maguire, meaning he’ll link up with the squad ahead of the England game.
In terms of good news, Séamus Coleman returns to the squad after missing out on the previous international break. The Everton right back will bring much needed experience and leadership to the Ireland squad, particularly ahead of the Nations League fixtures.
Injuries: Enda Stevens, Callum Robinson, Aaron Connolly
The majority of the England squad have been passed fit for the match against Ireland. There are concerns over Marcus Rashford, however. The Manchester United winger has picked up a shoulder injury, but has joined up with the squad regardless.
James Ward-Prowse, Joe Gomez and Trent Alexander-Arnold have been forced to withdraw from the squad due to injury. Joe Gomez came off the worst of the three. Reports have surfaced that the Liverpool defender may have suffered a cruciate ligament injury. If so, he’ll likely be out for the remainder of the season. This would only further Liverpool’s unfortunate luck with defensive injuries this season.
Gareth Southgate has called up 17-year-old Dortmund midfielder Jude Bellingham in place of James Ward-Prowse. This is a first time inclusion of Bellingham in the England squad.
The young midfielder impressed for Birmingham City in the Championship last season which earned him a move to the German giants. He has featured on 6 occasions for Dortmund so far this season, including a cameo against Bayern Munich at the weekend in which he impressed. Bellingham will be hoping to make an appearance in the coming games, given he is the only uncapped player in the squad.
In terms of suspensions, Harry Maguire and Reece James will not be available for the Iceland fixture. They will, however, be available for selection against Ireland.
Burnley keeper Nick Pope will also start in goals tomorrow, England have confirmed.
Injuries: James Ward-Prowse, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Marcus Rashford (minor)
Ireland vs. England Prediction
Although there is a considerable gulf in quality between the two squads, Ireland are unlikely to be pushovers. Stephen Kenny will be urging his players to gather a respectable result after a rough few months.
The return of Séamus Coleman will also provide a much-needed boost to the Ireland squad. The Everton and Ireland captain has been in fine form this season and his leadership should invigorate the Irish team.
England will be hard to break down, however. They also have a wealth of attacking talent which may cause Ireland problems, although the defensive area is one of the strong points of the Irish team.
Our prediction for the game is:
England 1 – 0 Ireland
— FAIreland ⚽️🇮🇪 (@FAIreland) November 9, 2020
Wembley Stadium will be the venue for the fixture. The last time Ireland played at Wembley in 2013 the match ended as a 1-1 draw.
The fixture will be played on the 12th of November. The match will kick off at 8 p.m. Irish standard time.
RTÉ 2 will be providing coverage of the fixture from 7:30 p.m. meaning Irish viewers can watch the match free to air. ITV will also be providing coverage of the fixture from the same time. STV will also be covering the match from Scotland.
Irish viewers will be able to stream the match through the RTÉ Player. Additionally, viewers with an ITV subscription will be able to stream the match through the ITV Hub.