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Kings of Anglia Issue 10 Magazine Offer

Town's England date to be confirmed

PUBLISHED: 20:00 17 June 2003 | UPDATED: 14:00 03 March 2010

ENGLAND'S forthcoming friendly clash with Croatia in Ipswich is finally close to being confirmed.

A press conference taking place at Portman Road tomorrow morning will end more than a year of speculation about the historic fixture scheduled to take place on Wednesday, August 20.

ENGLAND'S forthcoming friendly clash with Croatia in Ipswich is finally close to being confirmed.

A press conference taking place at Portman Road tomorrow morning will end more than a year of speculation about the historic fixture scheduled to take place on Wednesday, August 20.

It will be the first time Town will have hosted a game involving England's senior side and there is sure to be a real scramble for tickets.

There is no guarantee, however, that Ipswich fans will be able to obtain tickets for the big game.

More than 17,000 season tickets may have already been snapped up, but none of the supporters who have purchased them will receive priority for the international fixture.

News of the game will come as no surprise to readers of The Evening Star, because we have been consistently on the ball.

It was way back in February last year that we told you Portman Road was set to stage a prestigious game involving Sven Goran Eriksson's men.

Our story was denied, both by Town and The Football Association, causing supporters to doubt its accuracy.

But we stuck to our guns and in November last year, despite further denials, we revealed that Croatia would be the visitors.

Once again, however, there was no official confirmation and it is only now – 16 months after we broke the story – that the FA are set to announce details.

Paul Barber, the FA's director of marketing and communications and Town chairman David Sheepshanks will host tomorrow's media briefing.

Although billed as a friendly, the clash with Croatia will be a vital warm-up fixture for Eriksson and his players.

It will be England's first game of the 2003-2004 campaign, with the Swedish coach Eriksson keen to include as many of his first-choice stars as possible.

England have already guaranteed themselves second spot in their Euro 2004 qualifying group, meaning they will at worst require a two-leg play-off game to determine whether they are involved in next summer's finals in Portugal.

Ideally, though, Eriksson would prefer to top the group and qualify automatically, which will probably mean they need to win their final group game in Turkey on October 11.

But that is only the last in a hat-trick of key qualifiers, with England travelling to Macedonia on September 6 and tackling minnows Liechtenstein at Old Trafford four days later.

One player particularly keen to play at Portman Road in August will be Ipswich old boy Kieron Dyer, now with Newcastle United.

His England career has been hampered by injury, restricting him to just 16 full caps so far.

Dyer, 24, was a late substitute in the 2-0 win over Turkey at the Stadium of Light in April, but has since been absent from the friendly clashes with South Africa and Serbia and Montenegro, as well as last week's Euro 2004 qualifier against Slovakia.

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