Scotland v England preview: Steve Clarke says match will help test progress of side

Scotland manager Steve Clarke
Steve Clarke’s side won in Cyprus to move within touching distance of Euro 2024
150th Anniversary Heritage Match: Scotland v England
Venue: Hampden Park, Glasgow Date: Tuesday, 12 September Kick-off: 19:45 BST
Coverage: Listen on BBC Sounds, Radio 5 live & Radio Scotland and follow live on the BBC Sport website & app

Scotland manager Steve Clarke says Tuesday’s friendly against England will be the perfect barometer of the progress his team has made.

Scotland are on the brink of reaching Euro 2024 after winning all five qualifiers and have risen 20 places to 30th in the world ranking under Clarke.

“In my lifetime, England have moved a bit in front [of Scotland],” he said.

“We are trying to close the gap on them and we’ll find out on Tuesday how much we’ve closed that gap.”

The Scotland boss expects “a competitive friendly, if you can have such a thing” at Hampden Park, not least because some players from the same club will be facing each other on the international stage.

He believes the run of matches which will mean Scotland take on England, followed by Spain in an away qualifier, and then a friendly against France in October and then, will help accelerate the development of his players ahead of what is now a very likely Euro 2024 campaign.

Scotland need just two points from their final three qualifiers to guarantee an appearance at back-to-back European Championships, although their place in next summer’s finals could also be secured on Tuesday if Norway and Georgia draw in Oslo.

“The more you play against the top sides, the better you become,” said the former Scotland right-back.

“This is the evolution of a group of young men who’ve grown up together, and we’ve kept them together. We’ve got better and better.

“I’ve got some things I want to see on the pitch against England, testing ourselves against top opposition, which we are going to come across more often in the next 12-18 months.”

When asked about England being keen to secure Elliot Anderson after the Newcastle United midfielder pulled out of Scotland’s squad for the qualifier with Cyprus and Tuesday’s friendly, Clarke said “we like him too, so now he has a choice to make”.

Team news

Clarke has no injury concerns after reporting “everyone is fit and available”.

Ryan Christie, Stuart Armstrong and Lyndon Dykes could come into the starting line-up after being substitutes for the win in Cyprus last Saturday.

What they said

Scotland midfielder Callum McGregor: “The players want to win the game as much as the supporters do. We’re in a great moment, England in a good moment as well. After the game, we’ll let people decide how close or how far away we are.

“It’s not going to be a gung-ho, crazy type of game. We’ll be controlled, we’ll try and have a decent chunk of the ball to limit the amount of time they’ve got the ball.

“The reason the group has got better and getter and picked up some really good results is because of the work we’re doing every time we come away, becoming more cohesive. We’re evolving all the time.”

Match stats

  • This match is taking place to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the first meeting between the sides – a goalless draw – on 30 November 1872. This is the 116th meeting, with England winning 48 and Scotland 41.
  • England have lost just one of the last 12 meetings (W8 D3), a 1-0 home defeat in the Euro 2000 play-off. They are unbeaten in four games at Hampden (W2 D2) since a 1-0 defeat in May 1985.
  • Scotland have lost just one of their last 19 home games in all competitions (W14 D4), winning the last six in a row. They last had a longer home winning run between August 1995 and April 1997, a seven-game streak.
  • England have only conceded a first-half goal in two of their last 12 matches, although one of these was the 1-1 draw against Ukraine in their last game. They last conceded in the opening 45 minutes in back-to-back matches in October 2020 (v Belgium and Denmark).
  • Scotland have won 15 of their last 21 games (D3 L3), winning the last five in a row while scoring at least two goals each time.
  • England have failed to win four of their last six away games (W2 D2 L2), as many as they had in their previous 13 on the road (W9 D2 L2).
  • Scott McTominay has scored in his last three home appearances for Scotland, netting five goals. The last player to score in four consecutive home games was Kris Boyd in September 2007, who netted in each of his first four caps on home soil.
  • Harry Kane has been involved in 30 goals in his last 28 appearances for England, scoring 24 and assisting six. He could become the first starting England captain to score in more than one game against Scotland, having previously netted against them in June 2017.

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