Scott Brown is expected to be fit to face England in Friday night’s crucial World Cup qualifying match at Wembley despite limping out of Celtic’s Premiership victory over Inverness Caledonian Thistle at the weekend.
In a further boost to Gordon Strachan’s prospects of overseeing a much-needed victory for Scotland, Robert Snodgrass yesterday showed the manager he has recovered from injury ahead of schedule by putting in a man-of-the-match performance for Hull City in their Premier League win against Southampton.
Brown – who was only named in the Scotland squad last week after reversing his decision to retire from international duty – was substituted after 62 minutes at Celtic Park on Saturday after taking a knock on his foot. “You know when he comes off it is a sore one,” said his club manager, Brendan Rodgers. “We will have to wait and see how that is.”
Rodgers said he was “sure” that Brown would report for Scotland duty this morning but added that the medical teams at either Celtic or the SFA would need to decide if the midfielder is fit enough to play against England. The Scotsman understands, however, that he will be given the green light to prepare for Scotland’s first competitive trip to Wembley since November 1999.
It was widely reported at the end of last month that Snodgrass would miss the match against England after he damaged ankle ligaments – the prognosis was a four-week lay-off – but the midfielder returned to club action in some style yesterday afternoon.
Making his comeback from the injury, Snodgrass was named on the bench for Hull’s match against Southampton but was forced into action after just 26 minutes because of an injury to team-mate Will Keane. The Scot drew Hull level at 1-1 on 61 minutes, then created the winner for Michael Dawson only 125 seconds later.
Hull manager Mike Phelan said: “I thought he [Snodgrass] would have 30 minutes in the tank because he has just joined into the training sessions really in the last 48 hours. And going into a Premier League game with that behind you is not ideal. So it was a case of, can we bring him on at some point? We did not really want to bring him on that early.”
But Snodgrass’s 64-minute cameo was enough to win him the man-of-the-match award and afterwards he tweeted: “Superb three points for us against a top team. Buzzing to get on the score sheet.”
Snodgrass scored a hat-trick when Scotland kicked off their Group F campaign with a 5-1 win against Malta. A draw with Lithuania and defeat in Slovakia have since soured the squad’s qualification hopes.
James Morrison scored the last time Scotland played at Wembley – in a 3-2 friendly defeat in August 2013 – and he, too, will join up with the squad today with a spring in his step.
The West Bromwich Albion
midfielder was yesterday handed his first league start for the Baggies since January and scored with a fine header in a 2-1 victory at Leicester City.
England interim manager Gareth Southgate only named his squad last night and he had to leave Tottenham Hotspur’s Dele Alli off the 25-man list after he twisted his knee in training on Saturday. The Spurs midfielder missed yesterday’s North London derby at Arsenal and is expected to be out for a few weeks.
Alli’s Spurs team-mate Kyle Walker limped out of the 1-1 draw but the full-back was named in Southgate’s squad to face Scotland.
Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino confirmed
the injuries, saying: “I haven’t had time to see Kyle Walker,
he is with a doctor. Dele Alli suffered a minor problem in his knee. He clashed doing
tactics yesterday and twisted his knee a little bit.”
England, though, do welcome back the impressive Harry Kane, also of Spurs, for the visit of Strachan’s men. Kane was handed a surprise start against Arsenal after seven weeks out with an ankle ligament injury and he scored Tottenham’s second-half equaliser from the penalty spot.
Jack Wilshere, a conspicuous absentee from international get-togethers since Euro 2016, was also named in England’s squad after finding some form at Bournemouth.