England's double danger

England's Adam Lallana (left) and Wayne Rooney during a training session at Stade des Bourgognes in Chantilly yesterday. Lallana has said that elimination due to fan violence would be "devastating", while captain Rooney and manager Roy Hodgson have appeal
England's Adam Lallana (left) and Wayne Rooney during a training session at Stade des Bourgognes in Chantilly yesterday. Lallana has said that elimination due to fan violence would be "devastating", while captain Rooney and manager Roy Hodgson have appealed for a calm approach by England's supporters. PHOTO: REUTERS

Resolute Wales send signal with tough talk as fan conduct could also cause disqualification

GROUP B

England v Wales Singtel TV Ch142 & StarHub Ch220, 8.50pm

LENS • England face the twin threats of a disqualification warning if their fans misbehave and a super-motivated Gareth Bale ahead of their Euro 2016 showdown with neighbours Wales in Lens today.

The bloody clashes between rival fans that marred England's opening 1-1 draw with Russia in Marseille at the weekend left Roy Hodgson's side facing the threat of elimination from European governing body Uefa.

England midfielder Adam Lallana said that such an outcome would be "devastating" and Hodgson and team captain Wayne Rooney have released a video message pleading for calm.

But, with England and Wales fans having been advised to base themselves in nearby Lille, where Russia played yesterday, the build-up to the game will be wreathed with tension.

Police numbers will be boosted in Lens, an industrial city in northern France, with 2,400 security personnel on the streets.

Extra officers are being deployed from Britain to provide support, while a ban on alcohol sales has been announced and all local schools will be closed.

The Football Association and Football Association of Wales have both urged fans without tickets not to attend, but, despite Lens' Stade Bollaert-Delelis holding only 35,000 fans, between 40,000 and 50,000 British supporters are expected to descend on the city.

England's players saw the violence first-hand on Saturday when Russia's fans charged their English counterparts at the final whistle, but they are doing their best to deflect attention from the issue.

"The scenes weren't nice to see at the end of the game, but the people in charge will be dealing with that," said left-back Ryan Bertrand.

Of equal concern to Hodgson will be the danger posed by Real Madrid forward Bale, whose stunning 25-yard free kick against Slovakia in Bordeaux set Wales on their way to a 2-1 win.

With England having dropped points against Russia, a second Group B defeat would seriously compromise their chances of remaining in the competition, as well as propelling Wales into the last 16.

But Wayne Rooney, the England captain, said yesterday that it would be foolish to focus all their attention on the Welsh No. 11.

He said: "It's an important game for us, three points up for grabs, and it's important we get them. Gareth Bale is a fantastic player, but Wales have a lot of good players in their team.

"It's not England versus Bale, it's England versus Wales. We have to stop a lot of their players."

Bale also raised the temperature by saying that England "big themselves up before they've done anything" and that Wales play with "more passion and pride".

Yesterday, Hodgson hit back by claiming it is time for Bale and the other Welsh players to back up their relentless public attack on England with action on the pitch.

" Talk is talk. Action on the field is action on the field," he said. "We're perfectly satisfied with the passion we bring to our games, and we don't doubt our passion, desire or commitment, or our wish to do well in the tournament. If others think they're better at it, it's fine by me. But it's not worthy of comment."

Wales manager Chris Coleman has a fitness concern over goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey, whose absence against Slovakia due to a back spasm saw 22-year-old Liverpool player Danny Ward make his first start.

Joe Ledley and Hal Robson-Kanu are both pushing for starting roles after coming off the bench against Slovakia, the latter scuffing in a raucously celebrated 81st-minute winner.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, THE GUARDIAN

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 16, 2016, with the headline 'England's double danger'. Print Edition | Subscribe