England face the Republic of Ireland on Thursday evening for the first time since 2015. It is the 17th meeting between the two nations and both sides will be hoping to achieve victory in the contest, something which has not happened since 1988 with the last five games all ending in draws.
17-year-old Jude Bellingham has been gifted the opportunity to make Three Lions history against Ireland after being called up to the squad due to the withdrawal of James Ward-Prowse.
The Borussia Dortmund youngster can break Wayne Rooney’s record as the youngest player to start for England by 15 days if Gareth Southgate chooses to start him in the friendly game.
Bellingham has impressed football fans all over the world after registering 11 appearances for Borussia Dortmund this season, three of which have come in the Champions League.
Both teams come into this game suffering a loss in their previous game, England’s being a 1-0 loss to Denmark, but more significantly, Ireland saw themselves knocked out in the semi-final round of the European Championship Playoffs by Slovakia on penalties.
The mood in this Irish team cannot be great right now considering the side haven’t registered a win since November 2019, leaving them still seeking a first victory under manager Stephen Kenny.
With Callum Robinson having to withdraw from the squad due to testing positive for COVID-19 and Aaron Connolly and Enda Stevens pulling out with an injury, Ryan Manning and Preston’s Sean Maguire join a weakened Ireland squad.
Southgate has named a youthful 23-man squad ahead of England’s next fixtures against Ireland, Belgium and Iceland which has got fans very excited. Phil Foden returns to the squad after breaching COVID regulations in September, re-joining the likes of Jack Grealish and Declan Rice, who have their first opportunity to face the Republic of Ireland since switching nationality from them.
This England side is full of players who are desperate to showcase their skills at the highest level, so Southgate is going to have a tough decision on his starting 11 for this game.
With Ward-Prowse and Trent Alexander-Arnold out of the squad with injuries, England fans are calling for Bellingham to be given the chance to start tonight and make history. However, Grealish, Foden and Mason Mount are all playing great football at the moment, so there will be very stiff competition for a central midfield spot.
With the spirits of these two teams at opposite ends of the spectrum, this game should be a one-sided affair in England’s favour, with the young players in the squad to try a stamp down a regualr place.
Ireland are coming into this game after suffering an agonising defeat in the semi-finals of the European Championship Playoffs and will be desperate to get their first win of 2020. Can they use the motivation of playing England and take advantage of an inexperienced Three Lions side to cause an upset in this game?
Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Harry Kane come into this fixture in red-hot form, being the join first and joint second top goal scorers in the Premier League respectively.
Hopefully, in this game we are in for a lot more action than the last fixture in 2015 which was a 1-1 draw.
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