| -2.1°C Dublin

Scots focused on Irish only

Gordon Strachan admits Scotland's forthcoming joust with traditional rivals England at Celtic Park will play second fiddle to their European Championship qualifying clash with Republic of Ireland four days earlier.

For a century and more, the annual meeting with the Auld Enemy was the highlight of the international football calendar for many of the Tartan Army.

It was disbanded for various reasons in 1989, since which time the teams have met at Euro 1996 and in a two-legged European Championship play-off in 1999, with the fixture then resurrected last year in the shape of a challenge match at Wembley and the reciprocal game arranged for November 18 at Parkhead.

However, the Scotland boss believes the match against the Irish at the same venue is "absolutely" the most important.

Speaking at Celtic Park, where his 27-man squad for both games was announced, Strachan (pictured, right) said: "Six or seven months ago, we were speaking about tickets for the England game.

"It's not happened that way in the last couple of months. It's all been about Republic of Ireland.

"I really didn't know I had that many friends in the Republic - it's wonderful. Thanks for your enquiries - but no.

"Fortunately, or unfortunately, the Republic game has overshadowed it in a way, which is great because it means there are things going on here.

"Sometimes if you just hang in to the Scotland v England game that is all you have to look forward to.

"But it is not. It is one of these big games we play, which is good."

Asked if he would take a "tanking" against England in return for three points against the Irish, he replied: "No."

The meeting with fellow former Celtic boss Martin O'Neill, though, is taking precedence, and he believes the backing of the Scotland fans makes his side a match for anyone.

"I think we are all looking forward to the atmosphere," he said. "I think the atmosphere at Ibrox (for the Georgia game) was terrific - it definitely helped us.

"It is going to be great here as well.

"The performance is helped by our fans. Between us we can beat anybody.

"I am sure Martin is looking forward to it as well. We have been back to manage an all-star selects with 60,000 people here so that was good.

"If we can get three points that's great.

"We probably think we should have had more points, but look at Germany - I think they have had about 80 attempts at goal in three games so they can count themselves unlucky."


Privacy