Matt Ritchie is confident Scotland can overcome England when the World Cup qualifiers begin after helping prove everyone wrong with Bournemouth, writes Alan Pattullo.
Ritchie scored his third international goal in just eight caps in Tuesday’s 1-0 friendly win over Denmark at Hampden. With the date with England at Wembley looming large in November, the winger is relishing the thought of upsetting the odds.
Bournemouth were near certs to be relegated in their first season in the Premier League. However, helped by three goals from Ritchie, they are sitting in a comfortable 13th position.
Although there are games to come between now and then, including friendlies against France and Italy, Ritchie is understandably looking forward to the clash with England. He has played at Wembley only once before, when at Paolo Di Canio’s Swindon.
Ritchie featured in a Johnstone’s Paint trophy final against Chesterfield in 2012 but lost 2-0. “It’s not a good memory, I don’t really want to talk about it – it was a bad day at the office,” he said.
Ritchie relishes the opportunity to exorcise those memories with Scotland in the Group F fixture. “It is a great opportunity, England are obviously favourites and we will be written off probably as underdogs,” he said. That’s a good position for us to be in. But we believe in the camp we have enough quality to qualify.
“It’s the same at Bournemouth. The press and media, they write you off. But that gives you an extra reason to grit your teeth and express yourself.”
England signalled their potential with the 3-2 win over Germany on Saturday, but fell 2-1 to the Netherlands on Tuesday to dampen the enthusiasm of some. But Gordon Strachan has already accepted the possibility Scotland could face the newly crowned European champions come November.
“If they are the champions they are the champions,” said Ritchie. “They obviously have good young players but we showed [against Denmark] we have good young players too.”
As for his own progress, Ritchie, who had never set foot in the country before being called up last year, enthused about life with Scotland.
“The lads, the gaffer, everyone involved has made it easy for me coming away,” he said. “I love coming away, it is brilliant.
“It’s tough in the Premier League week in week out and then to come away with Scotland, it’s different scenery, and it freshens things up. It is nice to come away and play with a different group of players and top players at that, and then go back to my club and do the same thing. It’s a pleasure.”