Roy Hodgson: England needs stern Scotland test

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ROY HODGSON thinks a brutal Battle of Britain is exactly what his England team needs right now.

England recorded their fifth straight win on Saturday when they came from behind to defeat Slovenia 3-1 at Wembley.

England manager Roy Hodgson heads onto the pitch at Celtic Park. Picture: SNS

England manager Roy Hodgson heads onto the pitch at Celtic Park. Picture: SNS

Although they went behind courtesy of Jordan Henderson’s own goal, Hodgson’s team were rarely tested and the largely dull game will only live in the memory of those who attended because it was the night when Wayne Rooney earned his 100th cap.

Through no fault of the England manager, the qualifying games since the World Cup have mostly been uninspiring affairs.

England were selected in a weak group and due to the expansion of the European Championship from 16 to 24 teams, up to three teams can progress, meaning had Hodgson’s team lost to Slovenia, it would not have prevented them from qualifying.

England will progress at a canter and in truth Hodgson will not learn much about the progress of his team against sides such as San Marino, Slovenia or Estonia.

That is why Hodgson is looking forward to the resumption of hostilities with Scotland in Tuesday’s friendly in Glasgow so much.

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“It will be a test,” said Hodgson about the match, which will be watched by around 60,000 fans.

“The Scottish fans are exceptional, especially at Celtic Park where they are very good at supporting their team.

“That is all to the good. That is what we need.

“We have done all we can do in these first four qualifying games so we are reasonably satisfied with that but we know there is a long way to go before France 2016.

“We know there are a lot of stern tests ahead of us and it starts on Tuesday night.

“A game like that in Scotland will probably tell me a little bit more about this team.

“I hope the players who get a chance to play will a) be able to stand up to any pressures and the crowd pressure and b) I hope they will learn from it and any lessons we take from it will only be valuable in the future.”

Mindful of what is at stake, Hodgson is reluctant to alter his starting XI too much.

He said: “I am going to need some experienced players on the field. I can’t just make wholesale changes because we want to go up there and give a performance.”

Hodgson said he was considering handing Saido Berahino his debut while Ross Barkley could also come into the starting XI.

“I can’t guarantee them starting positions but on the other hand I wouldn’t be averse to giving them starting positions because if I was I shouldn’t have called them up in the first place,” the 67-year-old said.

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