Tuesday 21 November 2017

Martin O'Neill hopes to avoid repeat of England 'debacle'

Ireland manager Martin O'Neill is expecting a lively affair against England on Sunday
Ireland manager Martin O'Neill is expecting a lively affair against England on Sunday
Daniel McDonnell

Daniel McDonnell

Martin O'Neill hopes that Sunday's 'historic' friendly with England will pass without trouble in the stands or around the ground.

Organisers are rolling out a huge security operation for the first Dublin encounter between the sides since February 1995 when travelling hooligans forced a Lansdowne Road friendly to be abandoned in the first half.

The English FA have indicated their fears about an element that has crept back into their away support over the past 12 months. But the Irish manager is optimistic there will be no repeat of the shameful scenes.

"It's 20 years since the last debacle and I call it a debacle because that's exactly what it was," said O'Neill yesterday after his team's first training session of the summer gathering. "Hopefully life has moved on since then and, of course, it's a big game and obviously has historic interest.

"It's a great game for us to be involved in and I've said that since it's been announced."

O'Neill expects the English affair to be lively, as opposed to be one of those friendlies which fizzles out halfway through.

"I don't think so," he said. "I haven't spoken to Roy (Hodgson) but from our own viewpoint, the game is very important and I think if you go in with that sort of approach you might as well not bother playing the game."

The Derryman has a few minor injury worries heading into a week which also involves a behind-closed-doors training match with Northern Ireland at the Aviva Stadium on Thursday.

Jonathan Walters and Wes Hoolahan are part of a group of six players that will arrive today. Both have knee problems, but are keen to be involved in a key period for Ireland's Euro 2016 campaign.

Irish Independent

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