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Scotland vs England – Match Preview

The Auld Enemy are once again pitted together later this afternoon as Scotland play host to England at Hampden Park. For England it is a opportunity to assert their British dominance and move one step closer to Russia next summer while for Scotland it could very well be the end of the road for Gordon Strachan.

That is because their hopes of qualifying for the World Cup in 12 months time are looking particularly precarious at best and defeat later today would all but end their hopes of automatic qualification while at the same time hampering their hopes of squeezing into the play offs at the end of the year.

For Gareth Southgate he goes into this game with one decision already made, that being that of who will be captain. The honour has been bestowed to in form Tottenham striker Harry Kane, Kane has not played for his country since last September due to two seperate periods of absence through injury.

There is obviously no greater honour as a player than captaining your counrty and the hope will be that Kane can carry over that scoring streak at the end of the Premier League campaign which saw him go on and win a second successive Golden Boot.

England do come into this game light of attacking options after Jamie Vardy pulled out through injury earlier in the week, it means there are just three recognised strikers available for this fixture with both Marcus Rashford and Jermain Defoe filling out the rather sparse ranks at the top of the pitch.

The front attacking four will more than likely be comprised of Dele Alli sitting behind club teammate Kane with Adam Lallana and Raheem Sterling providing the threat out of wide. They will be allowed to surge forward by the protective screen that Eric Dier and possibly Jake Livermore will offer.

There could be a start for Kieran Trippier at right back after his impressive end to the season with Tottenham, if that is to be the case then he will have once again been selected in front of Kyle Walker after disposing of the former Sheffield United man in the final handful of league outings.

Ryan Betrand should fill the left back berth with the rest of the back four being comprised of the pairing of Gary Cahill and Chris Smalling. While Joe Hart returns from his adventures in Turin with Italian side Torino to wear the number 1 jersey once again.

For Scotland there is good news as Celtic forward Leigh Griffiths is available to start, he sat out training on Monday but their assistant manager Mark McGhee confirmed yesterday that the 26 year old is fit and ready for selection in this upcoming ‘Battle Of Britain’

Whether he is selected from the start remains to be seen though as manager Strachan could decide to go with Chris Martin from the start. The Derby County man come onto a chorus of Hampden boos back in March but ended up silencing them after scoring the winner late on against Slovenia.

The wide threat will more than likely come from Steven Naismith and Sean Maloney, so although it will look like just one at top at times, Strachan will look to implement something of a fluid front three. If that is the case then imagine England to Scotland to go like for like.

Kieran Tierney who is earning rave reviews for his performances at left back for Celtic could well be given the task of playing on the opposite of the pitch this time around and deployed in a right back berth, if that is the case then Ikechi Anya will miss out.

Both teams will be fired up for this one and as international matches go it will at least produce some needle, which at this time of year is always a positive. England will go into this as favourites but the Scots will look to knock off them of their perch. Last time these two met in Scotland it was a 3-1 win to England, I think it could be the same tonight.

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