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Dublin: 5°C Thursday 26 November 2020
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5 reasons why Ireland can beat England tonight

While a victory looks improbable, Trap’s side have caused upsets in friendlies before.

1. Our solid record against big sides in friendlies

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While Ireland often struggle against the top sides in competitive fixtures, the team’s record in friendlies is far more respectable.

Sides of the calibre of Czech Republic, Croatia and Italy have all failed to beat the Boys in Green during Trap’s reign.

Playing England in Wembley is undoubtedly one of the biggest challenges of Trap’s reign, nonetheless, it would hardly be a huge shock if the side emerged with a credible draw or even a narrow win.

2. What the game means to the players

(INPHO/Donall Farmer)

There is a level of gravity attached, which isn’t normally associated with friendlies, whenever Ireland and England meet.

The game, while not exactly as competitive as a World Cup or European Championships qualifier, has a palpable edge to it, and will likely acquire the type of intensity that is all too often absent from end-of-season friendlies, given that it’s the closest type of game international football has to a local derby.

The Irish players, in particular, will surely be determined to make an impact on proceedings. Some of those in the side, such as Jonathan Walters, will be playing against their country of birth, and will perhaps want to punish the English for overlooking them for selection in the past.

Others, such as Robbie Keane, will be acutely aware of the history and prestige surrounding the fixture.

Consequently, it was no surprise that the Irish captain demanded to be released for the game, despite his club’s obvious reluctance to let him play.

3. Most of the starting Irish players have been in decent form

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Often, Irish squad get togethers provide a depressing reminder of how many players in the side are out of form domestically.

However, on this occasion, there are in fact a number of relative success stories.

Seamus Coleman has had a fine season, James McCarthy has also stood out for what is an admittedly erratic Wigan side, and Robbie Keane continues to impress in the US, recently hitting a hat-trick.

Of those playing, arguably only Sean St Ledger can be said to have had an especially disappointing season despite an FA Cup semi-final appearance, with his club Leicester recently telling him he is free to leave.

4. It’s far from a vintage England side

(Martin Rickett/PA Wire/Press Association Images)

The supposed golden age of English football, if it ever existed, is now a fading memory.

Its figureheads, including David Beckham, Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard, are either retired or past their best.

And meanwhile, the country’s one-time great young hope, Wayne Rooney, despite ostensibly approaching the peak of his career, is only sporadically producing the type of greatness he promised in his formative years.

Granted, in spite of these setbacks, Roy Hodgson’s team are still superior player-for-player to the Irish, but their deficiencies at least give Trap’s side a chance tonight.

5. The players’ determination to belatedly give Irish fans something to cheer

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Think about it: when was the last truly great performance from an Irish team under Trap?

The 4-0 Euros play-off defeat of Estonia was tempered by the fact that they were playing against an average team who were reduced to ten men in the early stages of the game.

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And for all the supposed heroism of the World Cup qualifying play-off second leg against France in Paris, it still ended in failure, and the loss owed as much to a defensive lapse as it did to Thierry Henry’s handball.

Moreover, the past 12 months under the Italian were particularly underwhelming. The Euros were an unequivocal disaster, while the World Cup qualification campaign has failed to alleviate doubts that the veteran coach’s management style is past its sell-by date.

Consequently, a win over England would surely be the most morale-boosting moment for this team in a very long time, even if it is only a friendly.

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About the author:

Paul Fennessy

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