5 key battles as England play host to Scotland at Wembley

·4-min read

England and Scotland face each other in their second Euro 2020 Group D fixture at Wembley on Friday night.

Gareth Southgate’s men began their campaign with a 1-0 win over Croatia while the Scots lost 2-0 to the Czech Republic.

Here, PA news agency looks at some of the key battles ahead of the keenly-awaited clash between the two old rivals.

Gareth Southgate v Steve Clarke

SOCCER England
PA Graphics

Southgate raised a few eyebrows by picking Kieran Trippier at left-back for the clash against Croatia, leaving Luke Shaw on the bench and Ben Chilwell out of the matchday squad.

Had England lost that decision would surely have been questioned more closely but the win was comfortable.

Will the England manager keep Trippier in the side? Indeed, will he utilise his squad for a game the Three Lions are expected to win and possibly draft in the likes of Jack Grealish, Marcus Rashford, Jude Bellingham and fit-again Harry Maguire? Only time will tell.

Clarke is under a bit of pressure following the Hampden defeat to the Czechs.

The former West Brom and Kilmarnock boss was accused by many of picking the wrong side for a game which on paper had looked the most likely to bring three points.

Clarke defended the performance but all eyes will be on his team selection for this game, where a draw at least is probably required if Scotland are to retain hope of getting through the group stages of a tournament for the first time.

Jordan Pickford v David Marshall

Scotland goalkeeper David Marshall
Scotland goalkeeper David Marshall was beaten by a long-range shot from Patrik Schick against the Czech Republic (Owen Humphreys/PA)

England’s goalkeeping situation has been a source of debate for years.

Pickford is currently number one but he had little to do against a timid Croatia side and will hope he is similarly untroubled against the Scots.

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Marshall was the hero for Scotland in the penalty shoot-out win over Serbia in the play-off final.

However, the Derby keeper came in for some criticism after striker Patrik Schick beat him with a shot from almost 50 yards for Czech Republic’s second goal. Clarke was protective of Marshall and he will keep his place but the vastly experienced Craig Gordon is on standby.

Raheem Sterling v Stephen O’Donnell

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Sterling scored his first tournament goal to beat Croatia and will be high on confidence.

The Manchester City forward has an array of talents and will need to be shackled if the Scots are to have a chance of a positive result.

If played wide on the left again Sterling will come up against O’Donnell who came in for heavy criticism following the Czech Republic defeat.

The Motherwell full-back, who was relatively late to international football, was defended stoutly by Clarke earlier in the week, so much so that it would be a surprise were he now to leave the 29-year-old out.

At Wembley, it will be his defensive attributes more than his offensive skills which will be tested.

Harry Kane v Grant Hanley

Grant Hanley was one of Scotland's best players against the Czech Republic
Grant Hanley was one of Scotland’s best players against the Czech Republic (Tim Goode/PA)

Kane was not at his best against Croatia but Scotland know all about his talents.

In the World Cup qualifier at Hampden Park in 2017, the Tottenham striker popped up with a late equaliser in the 2-2 draw to deprive the Scots of what would have been a famous comeback victory.

His battle with Hanley will be worth watching.

The Norwich defender was one of Scotland’s best players against the Czech Republic notwithstanding the moment when Schick climbed above him to head in the first goal. Strong and powerful, he will be tasked with keeping Kane quiet.

John Stones v Che Adams

Manchester City’s John Stones and Southampton’s Che Adams (right) could come face-to-face at Wembley (
Manchester City’s John Stones and Southampton’s Che Adams (right) could come face-to-face at Wembley (Adrian Dennis/PA)

The England defence looked more assured against Croatia as Stones returned to the fold.

The Manchester City man missed the two warm-up games following his involvement in the Champions League final but is a pivotal part of Southgate’s set-up.

The absence of an experienced partner – with Maguire battling his way back to fitness from injury – only added to the importance of Stones and he will once again be relied upon to keep the Scottish attack at bay.

It was something of a surprise when Lyndon Dykes was preferred to Adams for the Czech game.

The Southampton striker replaced Ryan Christie for the second half and brought immediate improvement to the Scots with his touch and ability to hold the ball up. Clarke is likely to give Leicester-born Adams the nod against England.

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