Belfast Telegraph

England may face local foe in Euro draw

By Martyn Ziegler

Roy Hodgson is relaxed about the possibility of England facing one of their neighbours at Euro 2016.

The draw for the group stages of the European Championship finals will be made this evening in Paris - and Hodgson knows there is a "good chance" his side will be pitted against a familiar local foe.

England have a 50 per cent chance of being drawn against either Wales, Northern Ireland or the Republic of Ireland as the trio are all in pot four, which contains six nations.

All three could present England with a tough task next summer, but Hodgson was calm about the idea of coming up against one of them when the subject was raised following the friendly win over France last month.

"I will take what comes," the England manager said.

"I respect all the teams. I respect Wales and the Ireland teams. There is a good chance we will get one of those because three of them are in the same pot together.

"It is not something that pleases or displeases me. It is just a fact of life and whatever teams we get we will do our best to beat them."

England's last meeting with the Republic of Ireland was the forgettable 0-0 draw in Dublin six months ago.

The last time they met Northern Ireland, England suffered a 1-0 defeat thanks to David Healy's winner. Wales have proved to be easier opposition of late, with England beating them four times in a row.

Other dangerous nations lie in wait too, of course. Even though England are among the top seeds following their perfect qualifying campaign, they could be drawn against Italy, who are in pot two.

The worst possible scenario would see England pitted against the Italians Sweden and either Wales or the Republic.

If all goes well, then England could be handed a group hat contains Ukraine, Hungary and Albania.

Belfast Telegraph