England agree World Cup qualifying fixtures

 

Fabio Capello's replacement as England manager could not have asked for greater assistance in his new job after it was confirmed there will be no World Cup qualifiers in June 2013.

A four-strong Football Association delegation spent just two hours and 15 minutes in Warsaw this morning thrashing out a fixture list for Group H that could hardly have worked out better.

In addition to avoiding matches in June - traditionally the time of year when England players are at their most tired - the FA have managed to get two matches against minnows San Marino in the first five games, as well as an opening match in Moldova against the second lowest-ranked team in the section.

Visits to Poland on October 16 next year and Ukraine on September 10, 2013 have been arranged for times when England's opponents do not seem to get the best results.

The delegation, led by Club England managing director Adrian Bevington, can therefore be well pleased when they travel home later today.

FA chairman David Bernstein, who was not present, has already said he will not start considering Capello's replacement until after Euro 2012.

However, the Italian's successor - with Harry Redknapp the current favourite - should make one of his first duties to thank Bevington, director of football development Sir Trevor Brooking, director of team operations Michelle Farrer and commercial director Stuart Turner - who were present in Poland for the meeting - as well as video and statistical analyst Steve O'Brien, who did so much of the background work.

"We are very pleased to have reached an agreement so quickly today," Bevington said.

"It was important for us to avoid dates in June. We have managed to agree fixtures similar to those we set out to achieve.

"There was good co-operation in the room and Poland organised the event extremely well."

England are likely to have one friendly between Euro 2012 and the start of their World Cup programme in Chisinau, although opponents for that game next August are still to be agreed.

The fixture confirmation is the second bit of good news for England today after they moved up from seventh to fifth in the latest FIFA world rankings following friendly wins over world champions Spain and Sweden last week.

ENGLAND'S WORLD CUP 2014 QUALIFIERS

2012

September 7: Moldova (away)

September 11: Ukraine (home)

October 12: San Marino (home)

Oct 16: Poland (away)

2013

March 22: San Marino (away)

March 26: Montenegro (away)

September 6: Moldova (home)

September 10: Ukraine (away)

Oct 11: Montenegro (home)

Oct 15: Poland (home)

PA

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