Lee Dixon: Clean sheet and win for Hodgson's England as season comes to a close

29May 2013



After the drama of Monday's Championship playoff final it's all eyes on Wembley again as England host the Republic of Ireland in an end-of-season friendly. Lee Dixon,  who scored his only international goal against the Irish, looks at the action as he files his final column of the 2012/13 season...


Weakened though England may be they should still have too much for Ireland in the last big domestic fixture of the football season.


Steven Gerrard, Kyle Walker and Andy Carroll are among the players set to miss the match, which forms part of the FA's 150th anniversary celebrations.


But there is enough quality in the rest of the team to ensure a better result than the last fixture between these two when one L Dixon opened the scoring in a 1-1 draw  during the Three Lions' successful qualifying campaign for Euro 92.


After getting my first England cap, that goal - which you will see during ITV's coverage of the game - was the second biggest highlight of my international career.  Delighted with my goal I ran off on the Wembley turf, looking like a right idiot trying to make the celebration as funky as possible, Ian Wright style.


A few people will try to knock this fixture, given that it comes at the end of a long season, but a young international could get the first goal of his England career  and that will mean the world to him, believe me.


And I think there's every chance that we'll see a couple of England goals against what is a workmanlike Ireland team. A forward line that will comprise one or more of  Wayne Rooney, Jermain Defoe, Danny Welbeck and Daniel Sturridge carries plenty of menace while there's pace and threat in a midfield that could include Theo Walcott  and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain out wide.


The days of John Terry and Rio Ferdinand belong to another era now, and it's up to the likes of Gary Cahill, Phil Jagielka and Joleon Lescott to stake their claims at  the back of Roy Hodgson's England side.


And whoever Hodgson picks to line up in the central positions, I like England's chances of keeping a clean sheet too. Glen Johnson, Phil Jones, Leighton Baines and  Ashley Cole offer plenty of options at left and rightback and should look after James McLean and Jon Walters in the wide positions.


Los Angeles Galaxy have given Robbie Keane permission to play in the fixture and, for me, he remains the Republic's main threat. I don't subscribe to the view that  playing at a lower level has lessened Keane as a player. He's still high-class and you just don't lose that, but Giovanni Trapattoni plays a defensive game and the  home team should be able to hold Keane and co at arms' length.


I fancy England to reward the home crowd with a decent win without conceding and will back 2-0 and 3-0 scorelines at 7.6 and 12.0 in an attempt to sign off for the season with a tasty win.


Thanks for reading the column this year. I hope you've had as much fun as I have and managed to make a decent profit on the way.


Recommended Bets

Back 2-0 and 3-0 England wins @ 7.6 and 12.0



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Keywords: Lee Dixon, Hodgson, England

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