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England’s ‘entire focus’ on this summer’s Euros – Gareth Southgate

Gareth Southgate admitted all England’s focus was on this summer’s European Championship as the Nations League draw pitted his team against the Republic of Ireland.

The two sides will meet competitively for the first time since March 1991 and are also up against Euro 2004 winners Greece plus Finland in Group B2.

The Nations League ties will be played in the autumn when Southgate could, depending on how the summer tournament in Germany goes, be out of the job, and he admitted it was difficult to see past the Euros at the moment.

“Our entire focus is on (the Euros),” he told Sky Sports.

“I know we’re here for a draw for a different competition but all we’re thinking about is our preparation for Germany and we’re really looking forward to the competition.

“We finished runners-up last time. We’ve been ranked in the top five in the world for four or five years so we know we have a good team.

“But we know in tournaments that on one day there are lots of good teams in Europe who can win matches against each other. There are also some other strong squads.”

The last competitive encounter between England and the Republic was a Euro 92 qualifier at Wembley, where a Niall Quinn goal cancelled out Lee Dixon’s opener.

A friendly match in 1995 at Lansdowne Road had to be abandoned due to crowd trouble and the teams’ most recent meeting was a November 2020 friendly.

Football Association of Ireland director of football Marc Canham said: “It’s tough, but exciting, some amazing games and obviously we’re playing England for the first time in a while.

“It’s a great opportunity for our players and team and our amazing fans, an experience they can really look forward to.”

Niall Quinn celebrates at Wembley
Niall Quinn equalised for the Republic of Ireland in a Euro 92 qualifier against England at Wembley (Adam Butler/PA)

Wales will be up against Iceland, Montenegro and Turkey in Group B4.

Wales boss Rob Page said: “We know what Turkey are about (having played them in the Euro qualifiers last year) – there are no easy games in international football but with regards to the opposition, if we could have handpicked them we probably would have picked them.

“That’s no disrespect to them, but we want to give ourselves the best opportunity.”

Steve Clarke’s Scotland are up against Croatia, Portugal and Poland in Group A1.

Michael O’Neill’s Northern Ireland were drawn in Group C3, where they will take on Luxembourg, Bulgaria and Belarus.

O’Neill said: “I think they will be good games for the young squad that we have at the minute. It will be a test for them as part of their development as international players.”

The league phase will be played between September and October before League A quarter-finals and promotion/relegation play-offs take place in March 2025.

Single-leg semis and a final will be played in June 2025.