Republic eye England friendly

The Republic of Ireland are hoping to line up a friendly against England if they cement their place in the Euro 2012 finals.

Football News: England

Giovanni Trapattoni's men will take a 4-0 lead into Tuesday night's play-off second leg with Estonia at the Aviva Stadium and provided they do not succumb to a fightback of remarkable proportions, will be heading for Poland and the Ukraine next summer.

They will prepare with a series of friendlies, and Football Association of Ireland chief executive John Delaney has indicated that England's long-awaited return to Dublin could be among them as long as the sides were not pitched into battle in the finals draw on December 2.

He told the Sunday Independent: "I think there is a real enthusiasm, particularly from the English FA, to have England in Dublin sooner rather than later."

The two sides have not met in the city since 1995 when the game was abandoned after just 27 minutes because of crowd trouble at Lansdowne Road.

England have been touted as possible visitors to the redeveloped stadium for some time, but the fixture is yet to come off.

The news emerged as Trapattoni and his players continued their preparations for what seems likely to be a huge party on Tuesday evening.

There was an understandably jovial mood around the camp as they went through their paces in Malahide this afternoon, although assistant boss Marco Tardelli insisted there would be no lack of focus from either staff or players.

He said: "Giovanni is well. Every day, he comes out with new sentences and new phrases and new jokes.

"But once it comes to training, he becomes like always, focused on the match and speaking only about the match to the team.

"The supporters are very happy and the country is very happy. It's important for the players who have given us everything.

"We are proud to train this team because we have very good players."

Both Trapattoni and Tardelli, the latter a World Cup winner as a player, have enjoyed enormous success throughout their careers, but taking Ireland to next summer's tournament would represent another significant achievement.

Tardelli said: "I am very proud. I am very proud of this success. For us it's very important. My dream is to have hear the Irish anthem [at the finals].

"I don't know what's important for Giovanni, but for me, it's very important.

"Giovanni would like very much to reach the finals. It's very, very important, but I don't know where in the table he puts it compared to the other titles."

Trapattoni's latest adventure will also be well received in Italy, where the 72-year-old's exploits are followed closely.

Tardelli said: "Many, many people love Giovanni in Italy. Also here now."

That might change if the two sides were drawn together, although Tardelli was relaxed about that possibility.

He said: "For us, all teams are the same. I think in Europe, there are many strong teams.

"For us, if we play against Italy or England, it's no problem because we must play these games.

"The teams are not important, it is important to qualify."

The only disappointing note for the Republic was the news that full-back Stephen Kelly will miss Tuesday's game with a groin injury, although Trapattoni suggested that John O'Shea, who did not play in Tallinn as he continued his recovery from a hamstring problem would start.

Winger Damien Duff was able to train despite returning from Estonia with a rib injury.



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