Hodgson excited by atmosphere

Published: Monday 17th November 2014 by The News Editor

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England boss Roy Hogdson hopes the experience of running out in front of the Celtic Park cauldron will shape up his youngsters for the rigours of international football.

The Three Lions manager and his team can expect a fearsome reception when they appear from the tunnel in the east of Glasgow for Tuesday night’s friendly clash with Scotland.

It will be the Auld Enemy’s first match north of the border since their 1999 European Championship play-off clash at Hampden.

A near sell-out crowd is expected at a 60,000-seater arena famous around Europe for the ear-splitting noise generated by the Celtic support on big Champions League nights.

It will be the Tartan Army who take up residence on Tuesday, though – but Hodgson is convinced the decibel levels will not drop.

He said: “Our approach to the game is exciting, it is a big game and we will be given a tough test. Scotland will be keen to win the game and I hope we feel the same way.

“We don’t see so many of these games between the countries now. Last season we played them and it was very tight.

“As far as I am concerned, we are the away team and Scotland have the home advantage because Celtic Park is a fantastic stadium to play in. The fans give Celtic, and I am sure Scotland, incredible support. We will have to deal with that and not let it affect us mentally. Our younger players might not have had that experience.”

Skipper Wayne Rooney knows more than most the impact the home crowd can make at Celtic Park.

The Manchester United forward has visited the stadium twice but is yet to register a win after a 1-0 loss to the Scottish giants in November 2006 followed by a score draw three years later.

“I have spoken to the younger players because the crowd here can take you by surprise,” said England’s new centenarian. “It will be a big test.

“I am excited to play in it. It will be a good game, Scotland are doing well and getting some good results.

“It will be a great test. I have played here before in the Champions League and the atmosphere is really loud and intense.

“I am also good friends with Alan Stubbs and he told me a lot about it from when he played up here. I’ve even come up here to watch a few games but playing in that atmosphere was completely different.

“When you walk out before the start of the game, the noise is incredible. The fans will get right behind Scotland tomorrow and we have to be ready for that.”

Hodgson dismissed Ben Foster’s suggestion that Scotland’s approach to the match would be overly physical – insisting that the game would not be “unnecessarily competitive”.

But the 67-year-old refused to reveal if he was handing the West Brom keeper a starting slot or rather give former Celtic stopper Fraser Forster an emotional return to his old stomping ground.

“If I choose Fraser, it won’t be for sentimental reasons,” said the England boss when asked about the Southampton number one. “It will be because he deserves to start. But Ben Foster also deserves to start. I will disappoint one of them.”

Having gone 14 years without a meeting of the two neighbouring nations, tomorrow’s match is their second clash in little over a year.

The enthralling display put on by both teams as Gordon Strachan’s men were edged out 3-2 last August has already sparked a clamour north of the border for the fixture to be re-introduced on a more regular basis.

But Hodgson rejected the suggestion that England would only consider taking on the Scots if they continue to show the kind of recent improvement displayed in their Euro 2016 qualifying campaign.

“I have a lot of memories of this game,” said the England boss. “The one that sticks out is the painful one just after the World Cup when Jim Baxter ran us ragged at Wembley.

“I watched it on the television. Scotland came down in 1967 and gave that wonderful display, which was personified by Jimmy Baxter. That would be my residing memory.

“But does it require a strong Scotland side for the fixture to be reintroduced? Not for me.

“I would say what damaged the fixture was that period of hooliganism, where crowd control was sometimes problematic, and I would guess that is one of the reasons why the fixture didn’t appear so regularly.

“We should judge the fixture on what happened last year – a game everybody was more than satisfied with – and look forward to another one tomorrow night which should be a replica.”

Published: Monday 17th November 2014 by The News Editor

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