LONDON, United Kingdom, Jun 9 – Liverpool midfielder Adam Lallana believes time has done nothing to wear away the lustre of the rivalry between England and Scotland ahead of Saturday’s World Cup qualifying match in Glasgow.
Beginning with their first encounter in November 1872, the two neighbours faced off almost every year until 1984, when the British Home Championship was abolished.
Their meetings since have been scarce and with Scotland having not qualified for a major tournament since the 1998 World Cup, a gulf has emerged between the teams.
But Lallana said: “It’s a historic game. We proved in the fixture at Wembley (England’s 3-0 win in November) how much it meant to us. We’ll be looking for another performance like that tomorrow.
“The Gazza (Paul Gascoigne) moment sticks out in 96. I was eight. It’ll be a great honour to play in this game.
“Going back to Wembley, it was a big game. There were a big couple of games for England as a team at that stage.
“We want the three points. We feel we’re in a good position at the moment, so we want to capitalise and put the season to bed.”
Saturday’s clash at Hampden Park arrives with the two teams in familiar situations.
England are four points clear atop UEFA qualifying Group F and closing in on a place in Russia, while Scotland, six points back in fourth place, face a scrap just to secure a play-off berth.
It is 18 years since the Scots last overcame the auld enemy, Don Hutchison’s goal securing a 1-0 win at Wembley, but Craig Gordon says his side are fully capable of bringing that wait to an end.
“We’re confident in our own abilities,” said the Celtic goalkeeper.
“Of course England are going to go in as favourites. You look at their players and they have fantastic attributes right across the team.
“Without a doubt we have players who are capable of hurting England and if we get enough of the ball and create chances, we fancy our chances to take one or two.”
– Celtic contingent –
Four points above second-place Slovakia, England have won four and drawn one of their five games to date and are the last team in European qualifying still to concede a goal.
Scotland were comfortably beaten when the teams met in November, but Gordon Strachan’s men pulled off a precious 1-0 win over third-place Slovenia on their last outing.
Scotland full-back Kiernan Tierney will wear a gum shield after injuring his mouth during Celtic’s Scottish Cup final win over Aberdeen, while Leigh Griffiths has been passed fit despite missing training on Monday.
Gordon, Tierney and Griffiths make up half of a six-strong continent from all-conquering Scottish champions Celtic and Strachan hopes their presence has a positive impact.
“It would be stupid of me not to use that enthusiasm and that run of games they’re on and the pride they’ve got in themselves,” said the Scotland manager of Celtic’s triple trophy-winners.
Tottenham Hotspur hitman Harry Kane will captain England for the first time on his first appearance under manager Gareth Southgate, having missing six games through injury.
Fellow striker Jamie Vardy withdrew from the squad on Wednesday due to a “minor” injury, while one-time captain Wayne Rooney was again overlooked.
Danny Rose’s ongoing absence due to a knee problem means Southampton’s Ryan Bertrand is likely to keep his place at left-back.
Recent terror attacks in London and Manchester mean there will be enhanced security measures in place, with armed officers outside the stadium and bag searches in operation.
England’s supporters will be under particular scrutiny after two fans received lifetime bans for making Nazi gestures during March’s friendly defeat against Germany in Dortmund.
England’s last game in Scotland, a 3-1 friendly win at Celtic Park in November 2014, was marred by chants about Irish paramilitary organisation the IRA being aimed at Celtic’s pro-Irish fans.