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Published 07 June 2023 4 min read
England Cerebral Palsy

England Cerebral Palsy expecting a 'really tough' test in their IFCPF European Championship semi-final

Written by:

Frank Smith

Meet the England CP team

England Cerebral Palsy international Liam Irons previews their match with the Republic of Ireland

Liam Irons stressed England Cerebral Palsy will have to be ready for the Republic of Ireland’s physicality, energy and desire when the countries face each other on Thursday in a bid to reach the final of the IFCPF European Championship.

Irons was integral to the Para Lions beating the Netherlands 2-0 on Tuesday, as the 32-year-old burst from deep before scoring with a stunning left-foot strike.

Matt Crossen then added a second in the dying moments as England CP guaranteed top spot in Group A and continued their 100 per cent record in Sardinia.

"It was a decent goal wasn’t it?” Irons said when asked about his strike.

“I'm not used to scoring many so it was good to get on the scoresheet. It was just hit and hope, I reckon,” he continued, doing himself and the strike a disservice.

England CP have enjoyed a 100 per cent record in the IFCPF EURO so far
England CP have enjoyed a 100 per cent record in the IFCPF EURO so far

England had beaten Spain 3-1 and thumped Italy 11-0 prior to the Netherlands match, with three of the goals against the hosts coming from young striker Jayden Kenyon and the rest arriving via the trusted boot of David Porcher.

“They've been hogging them haven't they,” Irons joked, when asked how nice it was to see a different name on the scoresheet.

He continued: "We're doing really well, especially considering the heat. The heat is a big factor out here and for us normally, so I think we're managing the games well. 

“What we normally do is go full-blooded all the way. So, we're just trying to manage the heat and manage the games to get the win. I think we're getting more used to playing that kind of football."

06 Jun 2023 1:27:00

Full match | Netherlands v England CP

Watch England Cerebral Palsy take on the Netherlands in their last group game of the IFCPF EURO

England entered the tournament as second seeds, with Group B winners Ukraine the world’s number one side.

The Para Lions are ranked fourth in the world, with Thursday’s opponents eighth.

And whilst the Republic of Ireland lost 3-0 to England CP at St. George’s Park back in April and were defeated 6-2 by Ukraine in their final group game on Tuesday, both results will count for little when the sides face each other in the IFCPF European Championship semi-final on Thursday.

Irons said: "It'll be a really tough game. Obviously, we're in a very good position now tournament wise but it's exactly the same for them as it's probably their best chance to get to a final as well.

“So, we're expecting a really, really tough game to be honest. But, hopefully, we've got the edge over them in terms of athleticism and hopefully, in those conditions, that'll be in our favour."

England head coach Andy Smith had spoken of the Republic of Ireland’s physicality prior to the tournament and Irons added: “You know what to expect from the Ireland team. They won't stop running, they'll leave a shoulder in and they're a very physical team. 

“We've played them enough times now, so we're used to the way they play. We won't be shocked by the way they play, but you’ve still got to be able to deal with their energy, because they give a lot of energy to their games, and also deal with their desire."