England to take on Republic of Ireland in Wembley friendly next month after New Zealand pulled out due to coronavirus concerns
- Ireland have stepped in to play Wembley friendly against England next month
- They replace New Zealand as opponents for fixture on Thursday November 12
- New Zealand withdrew over selection and travel fears amid Covid-19 pandemic
- Gareth Southgate’s men will prepare for Nations League double header
- They take on Belgium in Brussels then Iceland at Wembley after Ireland game
- England stars Jack Grealish and Declan Rice represented Ireland at youth level
Gareth Southgate‘s side will have a home tune-up ahead of their final two UEFA Nations League group fixtures away to Belgium on Sunday November 15 and at home to Iceland on Wednesday November 18.
New Zealand pulled out of the Wembley friendly due to uncertainty over their squad selection amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
England will play the Republic of Ireland in a friendly at Wembley on November 12 after New Zealand withdrew from the fixture over coronavirus travel concerns
England manager Gareth Southgate will take the opportunity to test his players in the friendly
England and Ireland last met in June 2015 in a friendly at the Aviva Stadium that ended 0-0
The England vs Ireland game will be played behind closed doors in accordance with the latest Government restrictions.
England’s last meeting with Ireland was a goalless draw at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin back in June 2015, while the teams’ last meeting at Wembley was a 1-1 friendly draw in 2013.
Two potential members of Southgate’s squad – Aston Villa’s Jack Grealish and West Ham’s Declan Rice – represented Ireland at youth level before switching international allegiance to England.
Shane Long celebrates scoring for Ireland against England in the teams’ 2013 Wembley game
Frank Lampard equalised to earn a 1-1 draw in a match to mark the FA’s 150th anniversary
Rice has 11 caps for England having made his senior debut last year while Grealish received his first call-up for the September fixtures against Iceland and Denmark, making his debut in the second of those.
England have work to do if they are to make another Nations League finals next year having qualified for last year’s tournament in Portugal.
They defeated Belgium 2-1 earlier this month but then lost 1-0 to Denmark to leave them third in Group A2 with seven points from four games.
Southgate’s side would likely have to win both their remaining fixtures next month to stand any chance of topping the group and making it to the finals.
Jack Grealish represented Ireland up to under-21 level before switching over to England
Declan Rice also played for Ireland up to under-21 level before changing his allegiance
Ireland’s attempts to qualify for Euro 2020 ended in disappointment as they lost on penalties to Slovakia in their play-off semi-final this month.
That means they will concentrate on the Nations League next month with a trip to Wales on November 15 and a home game with Bulgaria three days later.
Stephen Kenny’s side are second bottom of Group B4 with two points from four games so far and just one goal scored. They are just a point ahead of Bulgaria who occupy the relegation place.