England to tackle the Republic

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The Independent Online
FOOTBALL : After casting their net from Yugoslavia to Portugal, England found their next opponents closer to home yesterday when the Republic of Ireland agreed to play them early next year. The match, at Lansdowne Road, Dublin, on 15 February, wi ll be England's first away game under Terry Venables.

England will also meet Uruguay, who will be Venables' first South American opponents, at Wembley on 29 March. The fixtures replace the proposed match with the rehabilitated Yugoslavia (comprising players from Serbia and Montenegro), which has been cancelled because of the political situation in the Balkans.

Since Ireland's direct style is hardly conducive to developing an ability to counter continental opposition the choice may seem odd, but the Football Association was keen to point out that the aim is to face as many different types of teams as possible. Both sides could lose players to a Coca-Cola Cup semi-final on the same day.

One player England will not be facing is Stan Collymore, who yesterday pledged himself to England amid reports that he was being chased by the Republic and had an Irish grandmother.

England's following matches will be in the Euro '95 tournament next summer and, yesterday, one of the tournament's matches was moved. Brazil will now meet Japan at Everton on 5 June because Liverpool's Anfield ground is unavailable due to building work.

The latest unsavoury incident to hit football, Stuart Pearce's alleged racial abuse of Paul Ince in Saturday's Premiership match between Nottingham Forest and Manchester United, is expected to be defused by an apology.

The player has spoken to Gordon Taylor, the head of the Professional Footballers' Association, who said: "Stuart regrets what he has done. He will be ringing Paul to apologise."

Celtic have announced a share issue which would enable supporters to buy a stake in the club and raise £9.4m, the bulk of which would go on new players.

Brian Little, the new Aston Villa manager, is lining up a swap deal with Sheffield Wednesday which would involved Guy Whittingham moving to Hillsborough in exchange for Ian Taylor.

Wolves have asked John Richards, a former stalwart of Molineux, to join the club's board.

Euro gatecrashers, page 30