Jack Grealish and Declan Rice will be the centre of attention when England welcome the Republic of Ireland to Wembley for a pretty meaningless friendly on Thursday night.
With an already jam-packed domestic schedule and two Nations League games crammed into a thankfully short international break, this matchup will be seen by many as a waste of time and effort.
But not for Grealish and Rice, who will be chomping at the bit to justify their decisions to switch allegiance from the mighty Ireland in favour of turning out for the eternally disappointing Three Lions.
And, because we’re not ones to hold a grudge, we’ve referenced that treacherous betrayal with a billboard on Wembley Way. Our heaving football analytics team have predicted the pair’s movements ahead of tonight’s game to generate a cheeky heat-map for Grealish and Rice – in the shape of a snake.
PETEER CROUCH: Jack Grealish Must Get England Chance He Deserves
This is the first time Grealish and Rice will line up alongside their Irish team-mates at Wembley. It’s just a shame they’ll be wearing white. All jokes aside, at least England are actually using Grealish now.
Both players were born in England but qualified to play for the Emerald Isle due to Irish Grandparents and represented Republic youth teams all the way up to U21 level.
Rice even went so far as to make three senior friendly appearances before changing his stripes, meaning there will be little love lost for the West Ham midfielder or Aston Villa captain Grealish when Stephen Kenny’s men rock up in London.
To mark what could be a potentially fiery occasion, we have created some tempting live markets for punters to get stuck into – including offering 9/1 on our man Jack to take an unaided tumble and get booked for diving.
Backing both Grealish and Rice to end up in the book is available at 40/1 while we’ve also priced up the possibility of the pair bagging a goal each and really showing the Irish what they’ve missed out on.
We’ve always known Grealish is something of a showman, and we feel he may play to an audience even without a crowd in attendance so it’s 10/1 for the playmaker to kiss the England badge after scoring.
England v Ireland Tips
- Phil Thompson’s 7/2 Punt For Thursday’s Showdown
- Dom to get it done for England v Ireland in our 9/1 Same Game Multi
And then we come to good old dependable James McClean, so often the banker for card-based bets. The Stoke winger may not start but we’re expecting him to have taken Rice and Grealish’s lack of loyalty personally, meaning the 31-year-old could make an instant impact if either English midfielder is in the firing line.
Of course, all these markets do depend on the pair actually getting some time on the pitch and Gareth Southgate could just ruin our fun by playing a team crammed full of right-backs.
Oh, and Everton defender Michael Keane is in exactly the same boat as Grealish and Rice – having played for Ireland up until U19 level – but no-one seems to care…
*All prices are bang up to date with our snazzy widgets, while in-copy odds are accurate at time of publication but subject to change
Grealish & Rice Specials
Jack Grealish carded for diving
Jack Grealish to kiss the badge after scoring
Jack Grealish to score and be carded
Jack Grealish and Declan Rice to both score
Jack Grealish and Declan Rice to both be carded
James McClean carded for a tackle on Declan Rice
James McClean sent off for a tackle on Jack Grealish and Declan Rice
Declan Rice carded for a tackle on James McClean
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