The England Manager looks ahead to Ireland game in his matchday programme notes
England v Republic of Ireland
8pm, Wednesday 29 May 2013
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England Manager Roy Hodgson looks ahead to an important period of preparation for the Three Lions and their World Cup qualifying campaign.
In his programme notes for Wednesday's meeting with Republic of Ireland at Wembley Stadium, he praises the England fans for their 'fantastic' support...
"We have now reached the midway point of our campaign to qualify for the World Cup and it is important for me to use this opportunity to look at players once more as we prepare for our final four matches.
"The two away matches in March saw us take four points and while we would have been more satisfied with six, it leaves qualification in our own hands.
"We have four matches remaining to get the World Cup in 2014 - three at Wembley - and if we win them all we will take our place in Brazil next summer.
"I have now completed a year in the job and I am every bit as proud and enthusiastic as I was on day one. I know enough about the group of players we have with England to have every confidence in them when it comes to taking that final step in the autumn.
"We face the Republic of Ireland before travelling to Rio de Janeiro to take on Brazil, and in August we will welcome Scotland to Wembley. These fixtures are part of The FA’s 150th anniversary celebrations and some have used the word 'friendly' to describe these matches.
"However, in my book there is no such thing - these are crucial preparation matches for the qualification games.
"The players share this attitude with me. Every time you step out for your country you face competition and expectation: From the supporters who care passionately, from your teammates, from your family and friends and from within yourself.
"We have one or two younger faces involved this time around and it’s important for me to assess them during this get together. This process is important for the long term future of the national team.
"Both Stuart Pearce and Peter Taylor will take strong groups of young players to the UEFA Under-21 European Championship and the FIFA U20s World Cup later this summer. There are many coming through who over the next few years will stake their claim to emulate the great names who have come before them.
"On that note, I have paid individual tributes this season to several players who have either retired from football or from international duty. We are talking about great players such as David Beckham, Jamie Carragher, Rio Ferdinand, Michael Owen, Paul Scholes and John Terry. I’d like to take this opportunity to thank them all.
"As we welcome our Irish neighbours and look to Scotland returning to Wembley in August for the first time in 13 years, it is important for me to talk about respect.
"In my time as England Manager the support this team has received at home and abroad has been nothing short of fantastic. I have been taken aback by the sheer scale of passion and commitment our supporters have shown.
"Long before I came into the job I knew that the behaviour and reputation of England fans has developed into something we all should be very proud of. World Cups in South Africa and Germany in the last decade are shining examples of this. So I hope everyone who follows England understands that position has been built by many fans over a long period of time and sadly it can be undone very quickly by a minority.
"As much as we all want to win, respect for the game and for our opponents is paramount. This game is no different and I strongly urge everyone in the ground to show each other respect and not to chant songs that could be regarded as insulting to others - particularly from a religious or political perspective.
"I hope everyone bears that in mind, and every time we come to support our national team."
You can pick up your copy of the official England v Republic of Ireland matchday programme at Wembley on Wednesday or pre-order online here or you can download the digital version to your iPad or iPhone via the Apple Newsstand: www.TheFA.com/applenewsstand