England manager Roy Hodgson admits that Tuesday evening's international at Wembley against a France team reeling from Friday’s terror attacks in Paris will be “no normal friendly”.
Hodgson said the match would primarily be an act of solidarity with France, who rejected an offer to cancel the fixture despite some of their players’ relatives being among the 129 killed.
Armed police are set to be deployed at the national stadium, where the Duke of Cambridge is due to be in attendance in his capacity as president of the Football Association.
“We will do our best to make a good game of it but we cannot deny the seriousness of the occasion,” said Hodgson.
“We can’t deny the fact that this game is special. This is not a normal friendly because it is occurring only four days after this unbelievable terror attack and unfortunately that is going to be lingering over everybody.
“I believe tomorrow night will be about us showing solidarity and people writing about the reasons for this football match being played, rather than what happens on the field.”
France midfielder Lassana Diarra’s cousin was among those killed on Friday evening, while team-mate Antoine Griezmann’s sister survived the slaughter of 89 Parisians at a rock concert at the Bataclan theatre.
Les Bleus players also heard three suicide bombers detonate devices nearby the Stade de France, where they were playing Germany in another friendly match.
Tottenham and France goalkeeper Hugo Lloris conceded some in the squad had reservations about facing England just days later but backed the decision by his country’s football federation.
“Of course we are human and we had doubts, whether to play or not, to go home or stay together, but I think it was well managed by the coach and the technical staff,” said Lloris.
“The last three days were a bit dramatic. We were in mourning all together. We will try to escape from it for one hour and 30 minutes. There will be a lot of emotion from the players, but it will be a great moment of solidarity. It will be an opportunity for us to show character and share this moment with all the English people.”
Wembley’s arch was lit up with the red, white and blue of France flag and the stadium’s exterior screen’s displayed the country’s motto “liberte, egalite, fraternite” yesterday in anticipation of the game.
All spectators will be encouraged to join in a pre-match rendition of Le Marseillaise, the French national anthem, with the words to be displayed for English fans.