England v Republic of Ireland: Complete Match Preview, Line Ups and Key Stas
England take on Republic of Ireland on Wednesday night in a friendly to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Football Association but debate is surrounding the captaincy role of Ashley Cole.
The Home Nations will meet at Wembley for the first time since a European Championship qualifier in 1991 while a 1995 friendly in Dublin had to be abandoned due to infamous rioting.
All involved will therefore hope for a match played in good spirit to mark the FA's birthday but the muddle surrounding the decision to give Chelsea left-back Cole the England captain's armband is already a distraction.
On Tuesday, manager Roy Hodgson caused mass confusion after initially saying Cole would lead England out against Republic of Ireland as a gesture to honour his 100th cap before Frank Lampard would then take over the captaincy.But, minutes later, Hodgson backtracked and said Cole, who is set to make his 102nd appearance for his country, would in fact lead his country throughout the game versus Giovanni Trapattoni's visitors.
It has also been speculated whether Cole wanted the privilege amid suggestions he does not like the limelight and responsibilities of being the skipper, particularly when it comes just seven months after he was fined £90,000 for a Twitter rant against the FA.
Hodgson will, of course, prefer to focus on the game and will be hoping for a positive result before England fly to Rio de Janeiro immediately after the match ahead of facing Brazil on Sunday.
At the same time, the game against Republic of Ireland has the additional narrative of the old friend-and-foe relationship between Hodgson and Trapattoni, with the former's Malmo having knocked the latter's Inter Milan out of the European Cup in 1989.
Republic are also keen to cause an upset and Robbie Keane has stoked the rivalry by criticising the politics which has surrounded the England team in recent years and he suggested the Irish players care more about representing their nation.
Hart, Johnson, Cahill, Jagielka, Cole, Walcott, Carrick, Lampard, Milner, Rooney, Sturridge
Republic of Ireland
Forde, Coleman, O’Shea, St Ledger, Kelly, Walters, McCarthy, Whelan, McGeady, Keane, Long
England have not beaten Ireland in any of their last five encounters.
This is Ireland’s first visit to England since 1991, with the game organised as part of the FA’s ongoing 150th anniversary celebrations.
The match had to be abandoned the last time these two nations met in 1995 due to rioting.
The Three Lions are unbeaten in their last five games at Wembley, including victories over Belgium, Italy and Brazil.
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