England v Republic of Ireland betting preview: Can Gareth Southgate mastermind friendly win?
Odds and preview ahead of tonight’s match
England face the Republic of Ireland tonight in the first of their three fixtures during the international break.
Gareth Southgate is expected to experiment with his line-up for the friendly at Wembley, ahead of Nations League clashes with Belgium and Iceland.
Ireland are looking for their first win over England since the 1988 Euros, which was the last meeting between these two nations that didn’t end in a draw.
And ahead of the action, we’ve taken a closer look at both teams.
England are the clear pre-match favourites at 2/5, with Ireland priced at 15/2 to get the win. The draw is going at 13/4.
Meetings between these two rarely produce thrillers, with the last six games ending either 0-0 or 1-1. A goalless draw can be backed at 17/2 while we go 3/4 that there are under 2.5 goals.
All eyes will be on Jack Grealish following his exceptional season so far and the Aston Villa star is priced at 21/10 to bag his first goal for the Three Lions. Meanwhile, Harry Kane is 4/1 to bag two or more.
Ireland have failed to score in each of their last four outings but they could release the shackles for this friendly. Norwich striker Adam Idah is yet to score for his country and he’s 11/1 to break the deadlock tonight, or 4/1 to score anytime.
While it’s a fairly common treat in club football, facing your former team is a rare novelty on the international stage.
Yet in Grealish and Declan Rice, England could field two midfielders that have previously played for Ireland before pledging their allegiance to the Three Lions.
Grealish’s Irish caps only came at youth level but if you rewind a few years, much fanfare was made over his future at a time when it was unclear whether he’d fulfil the unlimited potential he seemed to possess.
But any doubts over his ability have been well and truly extinguished over the last 12 months as he’s demonstrated his ability as one of the Premier League’s most explosive talents.
Grealish’s talent is there for all to see, except for perhaps Southgate, who has so far struggled to find a role for the 25-year-old in his ideal XI.
And whether you agree with the manager’s preferences or not, it speaks volumes about the wealth of attacking options England currently have.
Harry Kane has silenced all critics by starting the season in scintillating form and the Tottenham striker has able deputies in Dominic Calvert-Lewin, Marcus Rashford and Tammy Abraham, as well as Danny Ings prior to his injury.
Grealish largely plays a free role for Villa, drifting in from the left, but at international level he’s competing for a place with Raheem Sterling and Jadon Sancho.
And while he can also be utilised deeper in midfield, the likes of Phil Foden and Mason Mount stand in his way.
It’s a good problem for Southgate to have, although a frustrating one for England fans.
Grealish impressed on his first start against Wales and perhaps he’ll be let loose on an Ireland side on a woeful run of form.
Stephen Kenny is yet to taste victory since replacing Mick McCarthy as boss, yielding just one goal from his five matches in charge.
Ireland missed out on the chance to play at next summer’s Euros after crashing out of the play-offs following a penalty shootout defeat to Slovakia.
And it’s difficult to see where their attacking threat will be, with James McClean the only player in their squad to have hit double figures for Ireland.
However, it won’t be plain sailing for England. Despite Ireland’s impotent attack, their backline is packed full of experience, with the likes of Seamus Coleman, Shane Duffy and Matt Doherty standing in England’s way.
Their defence will be difficult to unpick and England’s hopes may rest on the shoulders of an in-form playmaker with the ability to pick a pass and glide past the challenge of any opponent.
Over to you, Jack Grealish.
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All odds and markets correct as of date of publication