FAI target England game early in 2012
Published 12/12/2010 | 05:00
The FAI expect to confirm a friendly with England in Dublin, probably to take place in early 2012, before Christmas.
Speculation that Ireland would play Fabio Capello's side next summer had intensified late last week once it became clear that England were pulling out of a friendly in Thailand.
The English FA insisted on Friday that no friendly would be played in 2011, with the only possible date coming in November when Ireland could be involved in a play-off.
The FA had agreed to the June date with Thailand, inconvenient though it was, as part of their campaign to win the 2018 World Cup. But with the Thai member of FIFA's executive committee one of many to go back on his word, the FA decided to cancel the game.
While some initial enquiries were made about the date, there was little appetite for it from either side, as it would come at the end of the season, four days after Ireland play Macedonia in Skopje and England play Switzerland at Wembley.
The game could be scheduled for November next year but a February or March date in 2012 looks the most likely option for the first meeting between the two sides since 1995.
In the late 1980s and early Nineties, Ireland played England in four competitive games, at the finals of Euro 88 and Italia 90, and then home and away in qualifiers for the 1992 European Championships.
But in 1995 the friendly at Lansdowne Road was abandoned as England fans in the Upper West Stand began hurling wooden benches on to the pitch and fans below after David Kelly had given Ireland the lead.
The FAI would expect the Aviva to be less vulnerable and the return of England would provide some welcome revenue as the FAI struggle to sell tickets and meet their financial commitments.
Meanwhile, Stephen Ireland will wonder if he has a future at Aston Villa after he was left out of the squad for yesterday's victory against West Brom. Richard Dunne was also dropped but Ireland has already been criticised by Gerard Houllier and Liverpool are one of the clubs rumoured to be interested, having followed his progress in the past.