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4:20pm UK, Sunday June 24, 2012
Some 6,000 England fans are expected in Kiev for England’s Euro 2012 quarter-final match against Italy tonight.
Only 3,000 supporters travelled to Ukraine for the team’s group stage games but hopes are rising that Roy Hodgson’s side could make it further than they have done in any recent tournament.
England’s fans are expected to outnumber Italians, who do not traditionally follow the national team abroad en masse.
Many England fans have booked flights on impulse, with British Airways using larger-than-normal planes to accommodate the increasing number of hopeful supporters.
England fans are expected to heavily outnumber their Italian counterparts in Kiev
Some optimists are also booking flights to Warsaw, for a potential semi-final clash with Germany.
Dan McEwan, 26 from north London is among the fans in Kiev, having arrived in Ukraine on Saturday afternoon.
He told Sky News he was hoping the trip would cost him less than £1,000.
“As soon as they got through against Ukraine we had to do it,” he said.
“It’s been 12 hours travel to get here but well worth it.
“We have to be back in work on Monday so it’s a 5.35am flight out just a few hours after the game – it will be an all-nighter but we’ll sleep it off on the plane.”
He has travelled with friend Jamie Instone, 26, from Accrington, Lancashire.
Mr Instone said: “What has given me heart with England is that we are not trying to be a fancy European team like Barcelona. We are playing within our ability and it’s working.
Hopes are high of success for Roy Hodgson’s team
“Whatever Hodgson is saying to them he just needs to do it again against Italy.”
Female fans are vastly outnumbered, but Sandra Farrell and Alison Taylor from Manchester have been following England by rail since their first game against France.
“It’s quite funny the reaction we get from some of the men. They say, ‘so, where are your husbands?’ and ‘are you actually here for the football?’ but we just brush it off,” said Miss Taylor.
“We reckon England will do it tomorrow. We’ve got our tickets to Warsaw booked.”
The British Government is boycotting the quarter-final because of concerns over human rights abuses, including the treatment of jailed Ukrainian opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko.
Her daughter Eugenia, who previously supported the boycott, has told Sky News she believes the British Government’s presence would be a more effective statement.
:: Follow the latest with live updates from the Sky News team in Kiev