By Niall Clarke
- England travel to Dublin for the first time in 20 years
- The last meeting in 1995 was abandoned due to crowd trouble
- Charlie Austin and Jamie Vardy hoping for first England caps.
England travel to Dublin for the first time in 20 years, as The Three Lions take on Ireland ahead of June’s Euro 2016 qualifiers.
The Irish were leading in the last meeting in Dublin, but unfortunately the game was abandoned after 27 minutes due to violence in the crowd.
The two sides have only met once since that infamous night. Frank Lampard’s strike cancelled out Shane Long’s opener at Wembley two years ago in a 1-1 draw.
England come into the match in a rich vein of form. The Three Lions are unbeaten since a disappointing World Cup campaign last year, winning seven of the last eight games. England also remain unbeaten in their Euro 2016 qualifying campaign with five wins out of five.
Ireland on the other hand will struggle to qualify from a difficult group, but they are going well having held world champions Germany, and currently lying three points behind leaders Poland.
Both teams will look to give themselves the perfect momentum boost heading into crucial qualifying matches next week. England travel to Slovenia on the 14th of June, whilst Ireland host Scotland the day before.
England look to have a fully fit squad heading into Sunday’s clash, with only Fabian Delph and Adam Lallana missing Thursday’s training session.
Delph picked up a ‘minor knock’ in the FA Cup final last weekend, but the Aston Villa midfielder is expected to be fit come Sunday. Lallana on the other hand missed training to spend time with his family following the birth of his second child.
The Irish also expect to have a fully fit squad with only Paul McShane a doubt due to a gash on his leg. The defender missed training earlier on in the week.
Vardy and Austin expecting first caps
When the England squad was announced for the upcoming games, two names caught our eye. Forwards, Jamie Vardy and Charlie Austin were named as part of the England squad for the first time with injuries and under 21 call ups leaving Roy Hodgson short of options up front.
Austin, 25, netted 18 goals in the Premier League this season but his impressive tally couldn’t prevent his side Queens Park Rangers from being relegated.
The only English player to score more during the 2014/2015 seasons was Tottenham’s Harry Kane, who is expected to play for the under 21 side in the upcoming European Championships.
Six years ago, the QPR striker was playing part time for Poole Town in the Wessex league and working as a bricklayer after being released by Reading as a 15 year old.
He was then brought up from the non-leagues to play for Swindon Town before moving to Burnley two years later. His success with the Lancashire side earned him a four million pound move to QPR, where he helped the hoops to promotion.
Like Austin, Jamie Vardy had to work his way through the non-leagues before earning his first England call up.
Six years ago, the 28 year old was playing in the eighth tier of English football for Stocksbridge Park Steels. Vardy had found a career at non-league level after being released Sheffield Wednesday as a youngster.
After being released, Vardy considered quitting football and found a job work carbon fibre technician. During this time, Vardy was convicted for assault and was forced to wear an ankle tag for six months, which was problematic for his footballing career.
The 28 year old could only play for an hour in certain games due to curfew, meaning that he would be brought off and had to immediately jump in the car and head home in time.
After showcasing his talents for Stocksbridge, Vardy moved to FC Halifax Town where he scored 29 goals in a title winning season for the Shaymen. As a result they were promoted to the Conference North. In 2011, Vardy moved up a tier and joined Fleetwood town where he scored 31 goals in 36 games in the conference.
His ability in front of goal earned Vardy a move to the Championship, where he would join Leicester for £1m. As a result he became the first ever million pound non-league player. The Leicester man scored 16 goals in his second season to help the Foxes clinch promotion to the Premier League.
In his debut season in the top flight, Vardy scored a mere five goals in the league but his eight assists and hard work saw Leicester fight from the brink of relegation to Premier League safety.
The 28 year old’s form towards the back-end of the season has earned him his first England call-up along with Austin.
Both will be looking to earn their first cap on Sunday against the Republic of Ireland.