13:18 EST, 6 June 2015
13:18 EST, 6 June 2015
Roy Hodgson and Wayne Rooney have urged fans to behave and refrain from provoking Ireland supporters as England prepare for their first visit to Dublin since the despicable scenes of 20 years ago.
The sides’ last meeting in the Emerald Isle bore witness to one of the darkest nights in English football history, with the so-called friendly international abandoned just 27 minutes in after chairs, timber and iron bars were thrown on to the pitch.
It later emerged that far right group Combat 18 was involved, but those scenes in 1995 have led to understandable concerns over problems arising as the Three Lions return to the Irish capital for the first time.
Roy Hodgson has called for England fans to behave on Sunday
The authorities are certainly taking no chances, with police clamping down on known troublemakers and the Football Association writing to all 3,000 supporters urging them to refrain from any inflammatory anti-IRA chanting.
Such songs have been heard all too regularly at recent England games and Hodgson has urged supporters to behave on the eve of the high-profile Aviva Stadium friendly.
“I was at the game,” Hodgson said of the abandoned encounter 20 years ago. “It was a particularly bad time.
“It was a particularly bad time for English football and the behaviour of English fans, and it was a bad time unfortunately for Ireland on the Irish mainland.
“I’d like to think that in 20 years things have moved on considerably. Things are considerably better on both fronts.
“As far as we are concerned, and I am sure Martin (O’Neill, Ireland manager) and his team, all we are interested in is one thing and one thing alone: playing a very good game of football, using this game as the test we need it to be before we move on to important qualifiers a week later.
“The last thing we really want to be doing is talking after the game about incidents, so we can only hope that both sets of fans behave themselves and in particular our fans do not try to provoke the Irish fans by doing things they really should not do.
“They know they shouldn’t do them, we’re making it clear they shouldn’t do them, so let’s hope we don’t have to talk about that after the game.”
Those sentiments were echoed by England captain Rooney ahead of what will be just the nations’ second meeting in two decades.
“On the pitch, it’s difficult to hear what is getting said when you’re playing the game,” the forward, just two goals short of equalling Sir Bobby Charlton’s scoring record, said.
“You’re concentrating on the game, b ut we understand obviously (about) the game 20 years and the problems there.
“As the manager said, I think the game has moved on from that and the FA have put the messages out for the fans to see and hopefully the fans will behave themselves and enjoy the match.”
Rooney himself is of Irish descent and set to start at the Aviva Stadium, with Hodgson saying “leaving him out would be a strange and unjustified decision”.
The England manager refrained from giving away his whole starting line-up ahead of the match, but has a full complement of players to choose from with Euro 2016 qualifier in Slovenia on the horizon.
“We’ve had three very good training sessions, quite intensive ones and then a slightly lighter one today, but I’ve been really very impressed,” Hodgson said.
“I don’t think you would notice the difference between the work we were doing in training at the very start of this campaign and the work we’re doing at the end, which is great credit to the players.
“I don’t have any fears at all on the fitness side.”
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