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FAI announces summer game with Northern Ireland... but you won't be able to watch it

The Boys in Green will face Michael O’Neill’s men behind closed doors on 4 June.

Robbie Keane and Northern Ireland's Lee Hodson when the teams last played in 2011.
Robbie Keane and Northern Ireland's Lee Hodson when the teams last played in 2011.
Image: PA Archive/Press Association Images

IRELAND HAVE ADDED a second summer friendly as they prepare for their Euro 2016 qualifier against Scotland.

The Boys in Green will meet Northern Ireland at the Aviva Stadium on Thursday, 4 June, before facing England three days later and the Scots on 13 June.

Fans will not get the chance to see the training match, however, as it will be played behind closed doors.

“With the season ending early for a lot of our players, we see this as a mutually beneficial exercise for both sides,” said Martin O’Neill.

“Holding the match behind closed doors will give us the flexibility to make any changes we see fit ahead of the European qualifiers on 13 June. The Championship season ends on 2 May, and if players are not involved in play-offs, that could be over a month without any games.

It represents an ideal opportunity to build the intensity of our preparations, leading into the England friendly, and before the important qualifier against Scotland.”

Northern Ireland, managed by former Shamrock Rovers boss Michael O’Neill, sit second in their qualifying group behind leaders Romania after wins over Hungary, the Faroe Islands and Greece.

The game will represent a first meeting between the sides since the Carling Nations Cup in May 2011, when Ireland romped to a 5-0 victory at the same ground.

“Having the game behind closed doors will allow both myself and Martin flexibility, which we wouldn’t have under normal international circumstances, and it will also help greatly in terms of our preparations for the important qualifier against Romania the following weekend,” said Michael O’Neill.

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Ben Blake

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