The oldest rivalry in international football will be reignited for the first time in 14 years at Wembley on Wednesday, although both England and Scotland find themselves at one of their lowest ebbs in their long histories. The match comes at a notoriously difficult time with the new Premier League season just three days away. Yet, despite that fact, England manager Roy Hodgson has been able to select a strong squad as he strives for vital preparation ahead of crucial World Cup qualifiers in September and October that will decide his side’s still perilous fate.
"This time the squad is full, barring Ashley Young who is the only one, and that's important after lots of players playing at the weekend,” Hodgson said, before Young’s Manchester United teammate Michael Carrick later pulled out with an eye infection. And Hodgson believes the rivalry between England and Scotland should ensure a welcome competitive fixture at a time when friendlies can be seen by many as something of a hindrance.
"It is a tough fixture with a lot of history,” he added. “It will be good for preparation because they will be highly motivated. You can't always guarantee, in a match like this, that the opposition is as motivated as you - but we know Scotland will be."
Scotland have already seen their hopes of making it to Brazil next year fall by the wayside. However, Gordon Strachan’s side should arrive with confidence as they look to repeat their ultimately futile 1-0 victory over England when the sides last met in a two-legged playoff for Euro 2000. After a retched run, Scotland grabbed their first victory in qualifying in June with a shock win in Croatia. And the former Celtic boss will be able to welcome back several regulars who missed that outing, such as Vancouver Whitecaps striker Kenny Miller and captain Scott Brown.
D: Johnson, Jagielka, Cahill, Cole
M: Lampard, Gerrard
Walcott, Wilshere, Oxlade-Chamberlain
D: Hutton, Martin, Hanley, Mulgrew
M: Brown, McArthur
Snodgrass, Morrison, Maloney
Prediction: The “friendly” should have all the hallmarks of a Premier League clash. And, while that may normally be a bad thing for coaches wanting to get their players attuned to the particular skills required on the international arena, the competitive nature should be a positive at a time when internationals can often be played at half-pace with more focus on avoiding injury before the start of the season.
Both England and Scotland have seen their talent pools diminished greatly in recent years, but Hodgson’s men still have greater quality than their neighbors to the North. And with the justifiable great hope for England’s future, Jack Wilshere, fit to make a rare international appearance, the home side should just get the win.
England 2-1 Scotland
Where to watch: The match will kick-off at 3 p.m. ET. Coverage will be provided by the Fox Soccer Channel, with a live stream available on Fox Soccer 2Go.