Roy Hodgson: I hope our supporters don't provoke Irish fans
ENGLAND manager Roy Hodgson has called on travelling fans to behave themselves and refrain from provocative chanting during tomorrow’s Aviva Stadium friendly with Ireland.
The lunchtime kick-off will bring together the two nations on Irish soil for the first time since English hooligans caused the abandonment of the February 1995 friendly after just 27 minutes.
English FA chiefs have written to the 3,000 travelling fans that will be in the stadium to remind them of their responsibilities. Hodgson articulated those sentiments after arriving in Dublin ahead of the fixture.
“I was at the game in 1995 and it was a particularly bad time for English football and behaviour of the fans,” said Hodgson, who added that the island of Ireland had its own difficulties at the time. “But I’d like to think things have moved on a lot on both fronts.
“Like Martin O’Neill, all my interest is in one thing along and that’s to play a very good game of football and use this game as an important test for a qualifier. The last thing I want is to be talking after the game about incidents. I hope both sets of fans behave and our fans don’t provoke Irish fans with things they know they shouldn’t do.”
Hodgson’s captain Wayne Rooney said: “We understand obviously what happened 20 years ago and the problems there. I think, as the manager says, the game has moved on from that. Hopefully the fans will behave themselves during the match.”
The English authorities have expressed concern about an element that has crept into their away support in the past 12 months and anti-IRA chants have been aired, most notably in their Celtic Park friendly with Scotland last November.
A large number of supporters are also believed to have travelled without tickets, which may pose another problem on the day although an extensive security operation will be rolled out in the morning.
Hodgson has opted to keep his cards close to his chest as regards team selection, with newcomers Charlie Austin and Jamie Vardy vying to win their first cap. Arsenal midfielder Jack Wilshere is a likely starter after a week where he was charged with misconduct by his own FA for leading derogatory chants about Spurs in the course of FA Cup winning celebrations.
“It’s not the type of behaviour we encourage, not the type of behaviour we’d want to see,” said Hodgson. “Sometimes young men do stuff which they shouldn’t do and regret. We’ll leave our authorities to try and make certain that he curbs his enthusiasm to do the wrong thing.”