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Tue, 28 May 2013 18:52:00

Republic of Ireland coach Giovanni Trapattoni admits he cannot wait to take on old friend Roy Hodgson at Wembley tonight.

Trapattoni has been eager to face England for many years and he will get his chance in a post-season friendly that sees the teams meet for the first time since their abandoned friendly of 1995, which was ended by crowd trouble.

"I have always wanted to play against England. I am happy to have this opportunity now that the team is led by a good friend of mine, Roy Hodgson," Trapattoni said.

"The match will be a big test - psychologically and physically. The majority of my players play against them in the English leagues and from this they know their strengths and weaknesses.

"This Ireland team is solid and it has balance, but not all our players play in the Premier League, unlike with England.

"In football there are no 100 per cent certainties; we want a good result and to play a good match in this fantastic stadium [here at Wembley]."

Fresh from a hat-trick in Los Angeles last weekend, and a long overnight flight, Ireland captain Robbie Keane said he could not wait to take part in the match, with the last game having taken place when he was only 14.

"It's always good to play against players that you have played against a lot but they will know me as well as I will know them. I'm certainly looking forward to it," Keane said.

"Hopefully it will be a great game for everyone to see and hopefully we can come out on top.

"I was a kid in the stand and I didn't think at this stage we would have a chance to play England.

"This is probably a bit long coming. To be totally honest with you, I think it should have happened a good few years ago, but for whatever reason, it hasn't happened to try to put to bed what happened a long time ago.

"They are very strong. They have so many players they can pick from - we don't have that luxury, to be honest with you. They have probably one of their best players out, Steven Gerrard, who is injured, but they have so many players they can just pick from any team in England.

"They are a very, very strong team, we are well aware of that. They have quality players throughout the squad, players on the bench and players who haven't been called up.

"They are a good side, but it's a good test for us. It's important for us to pit our wits against top 10 teams in world to see where we are."

Baker signed his first professional deal last summer having risen through the club's youth ranks but managed only four substitute appearances this term, each of which in cup competitions.

Manager Phil Parkinson told the club's official website: "Adam is at a stage in his career where he needs to be playing regular first-team football.

"We don't feel that we can offer that to him here at Bradford, especially given our recent promotion into League One.

"He has displayed an excellent attitude throughout this season just gone by though, and he certainly has the potential to kick on his career again.

"We certainly hope that he does just that. We wish Adam all the best for the future."

The former England international has been at the Young Lions helm since 2007, with next month's tournament his fourth since taking charge.

A final appearance in 2009 is the best they have managed in that time, although they are the amongst the favourites for success in Israel.

The squad are currently in Turkey at a pre-tournament training camp and Pearce believes his side will be firing on all cylinders when they kick off their campaign next week.

"If I roll the clock back and look at my preparation three tournaments ago, I was unsure in my own mind of what worked and what didn't, in regard to the preparation week," he told www.thefa.com.

"I now know full well what is the right thing to do as I've seen the results of that. Getting the balance between rest and focus.

"The one thing you do know is that the team who starts the tournament will not be the team that finishes it, that is a fact.

"I don't think any team has ever relied on just eleven players for every game, certainly not the winning team.

"You need to make sure you keep injuries to a minimum, making sure recovery is right, and not over-cook the players at the end of the season when they have had a long season.

"They are the important things to think about when you are going into a tournament."

The Young Lions head to the tournament on the back of an incredible run of nine straight wins without conceding a goal - a mentality Pearce is trying to hone in Turkey.

"We'll work mornings and mornings only," Pearce, whose side kick-off their campaign against Italy on June 5, said.

"Like we have done in Spain ahead of previous tournaments, we'll make sure the team spirit is good and the focus is right.

"Ahead of us getting on the plane to Israel, this week is when we'll do the bulk of our work.

"We don't want to slog the players too much physically, the mental side of relaxing them is very important.

"Work regarding set-plays, pattern of play, it has to be done in this period.

"When you get into tournament football it's all about playing and recovery, playing and recovery."

The relentless nature of tournament football will be new to some of the squad, including Leeds centre-back Tom Lees.

"I think we've really got to go out there and be strong mentally and physically, and really take the group by the scruff of the neck," he told www.uefa.com.

"We've got a lot of good attacking players in the squad, so we've got plenty of goals in us.

"As you have seen in the qualifiers and in the friendlies in the last couple of months, we've kept a lot of clean sheets.

"If we can continue to do that, especially against the big boys in the tournament, then obviously that's a recipe for success."

Saunders, who has been at Griffin Park for four years, was out of contract at the end of this season as the Bees lost the League One play-off final to Yeovil.

Sporting director Mark Warburton told the club's official website: "After very positive discussions last week, we are delighted to announce that Sam has agreed a new two-year contract at the club.

"Over a four-year period Sam has displayed his level of professionalism and of course ability, allied to his clear passion for the club and for playing a role in taking us forward to achieve our evident goals and ambitions."

Goalkeeper Antoine Gounet will leave the club this summer while influential midfielder Harry Forrester, the third and final Brentford player out of contract, is still yet to get back to the club regarding his contract offer.

Harlee Dean and Adam Forshaw, contracted to the Bees until the end of next season, are also weighing up extended terms.

Striker Antonio German, 21, has indicated he will not be accepting his offer of a professional deal.

The 28-year-old former Stevenage, Gillingham and Barnet defender becomes the club's second signing of the summer having closely followed winger Chris Arthur through the door.

"I have heard a lot of good things about AFC Wimbledon because I am best friends with (former Dons striker) Danny Kedwell," Fuller told the club's official website.

"Everybody knows about how the club has come through the leagues and I want to play a part in helping Wimbledon take another step. Danny spoke so highly about the club, including how good the fans are and the atmosphere around the place."

Manager Neal Ardley added: "We were really surprised when Barry became available.

"We liked him when we first played against Barnet last season because he caused us problems. We talked about him afterwards and said that he was the sort of character and player that we wanted at this club.

"When he became available we were delighted and we quickly jumped at the chance to meet with Barry and his Dad on Friday."

The centre-back will be registered as a Reds player when his current deal at the Etihad Stadium expires in the coming weeks and he will officially join the club on July 1.

Manager Brendan Rodgers has turned to the 32-year-old in order to add some experience to his back four following the retirement of veteran Jamie Carragher.

The Reds boss is keen to get his business done as early as possible to avoid the sort of problems which arose last summer.

Then he loaned striker Andy Carroll to West Ham the day before the August deadline in the belief he would be signing Clint Dempsey.

But the move collapsed after owners Fenway Sports Group baulked at Fulham's asking price and the United States international moved to Tottenham instead.

With Toure approaching free agent status it was a relatively straightforward deal to complete and further additions in defence are expected.

The future of centre-back Martin Skrtel remains in doubt after the Slovakia international lost his place to Carragher in the second half of the season.

Comments from the player in his homeland over the weekend appeared to suggest a move was a possibility and with Sebastian Coates also likely to be moved on, Rodgers' defence may need some rebuilding.

Toure's vast wealth of Premier League experience, having joined Arsenal in 2002 before moving to City, provides an ideal stop-gap while the Reds boss looks for younger alternatives with greater potential.

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