AUTHOR: Star Sports Content

STAR PREVIEW Thurs: England v Republic Of Ireland

England have had a rather inconsistent 2020 but they can strike a claim for some big bragging rights with victory over the Republic of Ireland at Wembley this evening. Gareth Southgate’s men looked to be getting back on track when a 3-0 win against Wales was followed up with a hard-fought if slightly fortunate 2-1 victory against Belgium, but then Harry Maguire’s red card was the beginning of a nightmare evening when Denmark won 1-0 here in the Nations League.

England were having some success down the right hand side early before Maguire’s poor touch forced him into a clumsy challenge that saw him get a second yellow card, and they performed creditably when one man (and a goal) down, with Kasper Schmeichel making a world-class save from Mason Mount’s close-range header in the second half, while Simon Kjaer’s brilliant last-gasp block denied Conor Coady late on.

England v Republic of Ireland
International Friendly
20:00 ITV

(Maximum 10 matches, since 2010)
JUN 2015 FRIENDLY Ireland 0-0 England
MAY 2013 FRIENDLY England 1-1 Ireland

Ireland have traditionally been tough to break down but have struggled for goals, with a penalty shootout defeat against Slovakia (where they were unlucky not to edge the game after lan Browne and Conor Hourihane missed great chances) followed by a 0-0 draw with Wales and a 1-0 defeat to Finland. That makes it 300 minutes or more without a goal for Stephen Kenny’s side but they have been more expansive recently, and it’s worth noting that they won the shot count in all three games (13-12 against Slovenia, 11-7 Wales, and 10-7 against Finland). Kenny could make some changes with youngsters Adam Idah, Jayson Molumby and Dara O’Shea all on the verge of call-ups in the abence of Sheffield United’s Enda Stevens and Brighton & Hove Albion’s Aaron Connolly and West Brom’s Callum Robinson, whilst we can also expect to see a changed line-up from Southgate as England prepare for crucial Nations League games.

Burnley goalkeeper Nick Pope could take the gloves whilst it’s possible there could be starts for Reece James – so impressive against Denmark before he was sent off – Tyrone Mings, Bukayo Saka, Jack Grealish and Phil Foden, with Dominic Calvert Lewin presumably leading the line. The presence of Grealish in particular could give England the attacking edge, with Aston Villa’s midfielder having an outstanding season so far with four goals and five assists in the Premier League to add to an assist on his full debut against Wales, and whilst it’s possible that neither side will be particularly fluent early on, the hosts look to have the depth to make a successful start to the international break.

Harry Maguire struggled with a three man defence when England played Denmark but he’s in better form now and given Ireland’s propensity for low scoring games, maybe a couple of England wins to nil are value in the correct score department.

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