Ireland could be reunited with France in Euro 2016 qualifying with UEFA set to include the hosts in the draw, though they will still retain an automatic spot at the finals.
Officials are meeting in Nyon, Switzerland, to outline the qualifying format for the tournament in two years time. The latest rule change proposes that France be included in a five team group and that their games will serve as friendlies.
The expanded number of qualifiers means UEFA are keen to include Les Bleus in the group stages creating nine pools of six teams. No points will be awarded for the games with the French but for the first time, the hosts will be included in the qualifying stages.
The Guardian newspaper is enthusiastic about a possible pairing of Ireland with England, a set of fixtures ‘bound to stir a few souls.’ Martin O’Neill’s side currently 19th in the UEFA rankings are expected to be named in the second pot of seeds after Greece overcame Romania in the World Cup play-offs.
UEFA are also expected to keep Spain and débutants Gibraltar apart, owing to the current fraught political relationship.
The qualifying draw will be made in Nice on 23 February.