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English coach Bobby Crutchley says that if his side are not already wary of the challenge Ireland pose on Wednesday, he will not be shy in telling them.
His side fell 2-1 to the Netherlands to leave the final group game between Ireland and the English as a winner-takes-all affair for a semi-final berth.
The Dutch advanced to the final four but, in a decent second half showing, England showed enough quality to put them in the favourites bracket on Wednesday.
Speaking afterwards, Crutchley said that the next match will be a huge tussle for his side.
“When you saw the fixtures, you knew it was always likely to be the crunch game for the semi-finals,” he said. “We are very aware of the challenge ahead. The Irish team have been improving for a number of years and they’ve shown again here they are a high quality side.
“We’re a reasonably inexperienced squad; we’ve only got six guys here from the Olympics. That make it a tough game for our guys to appreciate how hard it could potentially be. But don’t worry, I will be telling them if they don’t already know.”
He added, though, that due to the volume of players who have played in England before means that most will have already have had face to face experience with their opposite number.
“There’s also a lot of connections whether it be through club or ex-university team mates. They know each other pretty well.”
Middleton chipped in by pointing out that a brotherly showdown was ruled out, saying: “No Gleghornes though!”
Crutchley joked that Paul and Mark’s sibling rivalry could act as a substitute for the game itself: “I’m sure the two could have played the game on their own to decide it!”
Ireland fell to England 3-2 at the Hamburg Masters last month and have yet to beat England in a ranking event and the stats are heavily in the English court with June 2002 in Manchester the last time Ireland recorded a win.
** Pic by Grant Treeby/FIH
Ireland vs England (head to head)
98 meetings; IRL 12 wins, England 66 wins, 12 draws; Ireland’s biggest win 3-0, Belfast 1938; England’s biggest win 8-0 in 1909
* Ireland 2 (Kyle Good, Conor Harte) England 3 (Tom Carson, Darren Cheesman, Nick Catlin); Hamburg Masters, July 2013
* Ireland 2 (Chris Cargo, John Jermyn) England 4 (Barry Middleton 2, Matt Daly, Ashley Jackson); August 2011 Europeans in Monchengladbach group stages
* Ireland 1 (John Jermyn) England 1, August 2007 Europeans in Manchester in group stage
* Ireland’s most recent win – June 2002, Manchester; 3-1 (Stephen Butler, Mark Raphael, Julian Stevenson)