The Republic of Ireland and England meet for the first time on Irish soil in 20 years when they face off in an international friendly at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin on Sunday (13:00 BST, live on ITV1).
Ireland come into the match on the back of four wins, two draws and just one defeat in their seven internationals since last summer. They are fourth in Euro 2016 qualification Group D, with eight points from two wins, two draws and one defeat.
Martin O’Neill’s side drew 1-1 at home to Poland in their last international back in March. A mistake from Robbie Brady allowed their visitors to take the lead inside the opening half-hour, but Ireland fought back thereafter, dominating both possession and the shot count. They finally got their reward in injury time when Shane Long pounced to finish from close range.
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That equaliser maintained Ireland’s solid position in the group and allowed them to continue believing that qualification is within reach. They are just two points behind Scotland in third, and will play host to the Scots in Dublin next weekend. With three of their final five matches to be played on home soil, they have a decent chance of finishing in the top three.
Ireland have conceded less than a goal per match over their last seven internationals. Putting aside their 7-0 thrashing of hapless Gibraltar, they have scored 10 times in their other six, which is slightly above their return during their unsuccessful qualification campaign for the last World Cup. Robbie Keane is their top scorer in qualifying with three goals to date.
O’Neill selected a 27-man squad for the June internationals, with no major absentees. Of those who were called up, Paul McShane (gashed leg) is doubtful for Sunday’s match, while Keane, who hasn’t started at club level since early April, will need to prove his match fitness.
England travel across the Irish Sea on the back of seven wins and one draw in their eight internationals since their early exit from last summer’s World Cup in Brazil. They top Euro 2016 qualification Group E with 15 points from five consecutive victories.
Roy Hodgson’s (pictured) side found the going a little tougher in their 1-1 friendly draw away to Italy in March. They went behind on 29 minutes and struggled to put together many attacks of note during the first hour in Turin. Thereafter, substitutions on both sides added an element of disorganisation to the fray, with England equalising late on through Andros Townsend.
Hodgson trialled Theo Walcott and Phil Jones in new roles in that fixture, but neither of them really worked out for him. Such is England’s strong position at the top of Group E that he can now also afford to experiment in competitive matches in the hope of finding alternatives that could serve England well during next summer’s tournament in France.
His squad for Saturday’s match and next Sunday’s qualifier away to Slovenia includes two new call-ups in form of Charlie Austin and Jamie Vardy. With Harry Kane, Saido Berahino and Danny Ings currently away with the Under-21s in preparation for the European U21 Championship, Austin and Vardy will have an opportunity to prove their worth.
Daniel Sturridge (hip) and Leighton Baines (ankle) missed out on Hodgson’s squad through injury. Of those who have joined up with group, Fabian Delph (knock) looks to be the only one in danger of missing out.
Republic of Ireland v England Preview’s Betting Tips Verdict
These two sides last met in 2013 in a 1-1 draw at Wembley. The last meeting on Irish soil came back in 1995, in a match that was abandoned after 27 minutes due to crowd trouble. England have won five to Ireland’s two of the 15 matches between the countries since 1946 and are undefeated in Ireland, with two wins and four draws in the six previous encounters.
Ireland will clearly be keen to put one over on England and maintain their four-match unbeaten run on home soil, which included a 4-1 thrashing of the United States last November. But they will also be aware that it is next weekend’s European Championship qualifier at home to Scotland that is by far the more important of their two June fixtures.
England arrive in Ireland in good form and will be fairly confident of coming away from the Aviva Stadium having extended their unbeaten run to nine matches. Hodgson may give opportunities to some new faces but he is likely to put out a strong side that will still probably be comparable in strength to that of England’s hosts.
This is likely to be well-contested encounter and we believe that a score draw is the most likely outcome.
- Back the draw @ best odds of 12/5 with Bet365, Betfair Sportsbook or Unibet.
- Republic of Ireland have scored at least once in each of their last 14 matches on home soil, while England have only failed to score on their travels on one occasion over the last five years. The last four completed encounters between the sides ended in 1-1 draws. Back both teams to score @ 11/10 best with Betfair Sportsbook or Coral.