Wednesday 21 March 2018

England on way: FAI target November 17 date -15 years after riots

David Kelly

David Kelly

England are on the verge of returning to Dublin for the first time since their rioting supporters caused the abandonment of the friendly in Lansdowne Road 15 years ago.

The FAI have contacted the English FA with a view to filling the vacant November 17 international date when neither team are involved in 2012 European Championship qualifiers.

The approach from the FAI to the English FA comes four months after informal contact was made between the sides' respective Italian managers, Giovanni Trapattoni and Fabio Capello.

"I spoke with Capello about it," said Trapattoni. "I looked for him and told him we wished for a game. But England have many other agreements.

"I talked with him maybe two or three times and I think they are afraid! "Well, maybe not, but I was with him and I said, 'when will we play this game?' but he said he already had many other games."

England were committed to World Cup warm-up matches since that conversation took place and, even if Capello fails to survive the managerial axe after their disappointing World Cup exit, the English FA are seemingly open to the FAI's offer.

Despite obvious concerns about hooliganism within the new Aviva Stadium and the surrounding areas following events of 15 years ago, the evidence of South Africa this summer indicates that police successfully grounded all major hooligan elements.

However, it remains to be seen whether security could be enforced with similar rigidity within the context of an isolated, one-off encounter. FAI chief executive John Delaney, when asked about security issues similar to those of the Lansdowne riots, stressed at the Aviva Stadium's official opening last month that they were confident about security arrangements, an opinion backed up by stadium director Martin Murphy.

The first soccer game in the new Aviva Stadium may also feature Wayne Rooney, thanks to England's early World Cup exit, as Manchester United have already been lined up for a visit on August 4, followed by World Cup quarter-finalists Argentina a week later.

Meanwhile, Stephen Hunt looks set to miss both of Ireland's Euro 2012 qualifying games in September.

It was hoped the winger would be close to match fitness at the start of the season but Wolves boss Mick McCarthy reckons he will not be back until October, ruling out the trip to Armenia on September 3 and the first competitive game at the new Lansdowne Road against Andorra four days later.

"Hunt won't be fit until maybe October, but there's a good side to that in terms of the two-week breaks in August and September with two Saturdays missed," McCarthy said.

Irish Independent

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