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Last Updated: Tuesday, 13 January, 2004, 13:33 GMT
Home nations agree dates
Northern Ireland v Wales (8 Sept 2004)
England v Wales (9 Oct 2004)
England v Northern Ireland (26 March 2005)
Wales v England (3 Sept 2005)
Northern Ireland v England (7 Sept 2005)
Northern Ireland v Wales (8 Oct 2005)
England, Northern Ireland and Wales have agreed the dates for their World Cup 2006 qualifying matches.

Wales have been granted their wish to have Ryan Giggs - banned for the first two games in the group - available to face England.

Boss Mark Hughes wanted to avoid England, Austria and Poland in that early stage and so the Welsh meet Azerbaijan and Northern Ireland first.

England and Northern Ireland will meet in March and September 2005.

Wales and England match up first on 9 October 2004 with the return, in Cardiff, in September 2005.

The fixtures were agreed at a meeting in Cardiff involving the nations drawn together on Group Six.

Wales and Northern Ireland will will meet in Cardiff on 8 September 2004 - when Hughes will be without Giggs - and in Belfast on 8 October 2005.

Hughes said: "We're all reasonably happy. I think the main thing was that we had an agreement today.

"The worry prior to these meetings is that no-one can agree and you have to go to the lottery of the Fifa draw.

"But that hasn't happened and I think everyone's taken something out of the fixtures meeting."

FA executive director David Davies attended the meeting on behalf of England but revealed that Sven-Goran Eriksson had the final say.

"The last date decided was England's first match. But in the spirit of give and take, we finally came to an agreement.

"It is fair to say that nobody wanted to play us first in England. So in the end we accepted that we would go to Austria first. That gives us two away games to start, with Poland straight after, but it has given us two home games at the end.

"I was in touch with Sven while the meeting was going on, and he finally gave the go-ahead to the two away games first. It was his call."

Davies added: "We would have loved to play Wales without Ryan Giggs, no doubt. But there was not a hope in hell of Wales agreeing to that!"

Irish Football Association president Jim Boyce admitted Northern Ireland had a tough programme, particularly a double-header of away games with England and Poland next March.

Boyce said: "Obviously that is a tough two games, but we have got in our favour two of our last three games at home against England and Wales and I hope there is still something on those matches for all of the home nations."

England's fixtures

4 September, 2004 - Austria (a)
8 September, 2004 - Poland (a)
9 October, 2004 - Wales (h)
13 October, 2004 - Azerbaijan (a)
26 March, 2005 - Northern Ireland (h)
30 March, 2005 - Azerbaijan (h)
3 September, 2005 - Wales (a)
7 September, 2005 - Northern Ireland (a)
8 October, 2005 - Austria (h)
12 October, 2005 - Poland (h)

Northern Ireland's fixtures

4 September, 2004 - Poland (home)
8 September, 2004 - Wales (away)
9 October, 2004 - Azerbaijan (away)
13 October, 2004 - Austria (home)
26 March, 2005 - England (away)
30 March, 2005 - Poland (away)
3 September, 2005 - Azerbaijan (home)
7 September, 2005 - England (home)
8 October, 2005 - Wales (home)
12 October, 2005 - Austria (away)

Wales' fixtures

4 September, 2004 - Azerbaijan (a)
8 September, 2004 - Northern Ireland (h)
9 October, 2004 - England (a)
13 October, 2004 - Poland (h)
26 March, 2005 - Austria (h)
30 March, 2005 - Austria (a)
3 September, 2005 - England (h)
7 September, 2005 - Poland (a)
8 October, 2005 - Northern Ireland (a)
12 October, 2005 - Azerbaijan (h)

Wales boss Mark Hughes
"I think everybody's got something out of the meeting today"

FA exec director David Davies
"The games against Wales will be fantastic"

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