Six Scottish talking points ahead of clash with England

Could this be Gordon Strachan's last game? Picture: Michael Gillen
Could this be Gordon Strachan's last game? Picture: Michael Gillen
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Scotland travel to Wembley for their 2018 World Cup qualifier against England on Friday night.

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The Scots need a win to keep qualification hopes alive and here, Ronnie Esplin takes a look at six talking points ahead of the clash:

SCOTT BROWN

The Celtic captain cut his retirement short to offer his services to Scotland. There remains uncertainty around the nature of his return, whether it is for one game or for the rest of the campaign. However, it would seem unlikely he will stick around in the event of a defeat. Brown has been in terrific form for Celtic this season, arguably playing as well as he has ever done and will be an asset if he can replicate those performances against the Auld Enemy.

GORDON STRACHAN

Strachan was reported to be considering his position after last month’s double-header ended in frustration. A 1-1 home draw with Lithuania was followed by a dismal 3-0 defeat in Slovakia. The former Scotland midfielder remains in situ but a defeat against the Auld Enemy is likely to see his departure.

CHARLIE ADAM

The Stoke City midfielder grabbed the headlines this week when he claimed Strachan is not picking the best players available to him. Adam, 30, has not featured for Scotland since June 2015 and looks to be a forgotten man under Strachan but he has got the fans talking. Notably, Strachan has preferred to keep Celtic striker Leigh Griffiths on the bench with less prolific forwards Steven Fletcher and Chris Martin ahead in the pecking order.

SO WILL GRIFFITHS START?

Griffiths has had to play second fiddle to Moussa Dembele at Celtic in recent weeks but started against Inverness at the weekend and scored in a 3-0 home win, taking his tally to nine for the season after notching 40 in the last campaign. However, it would be something of a shock to see the name of the former Wolves player in the starting eleven. If Strachan doesn’t trust him against Lithuania at Hampden, he’s unlikely to do so at Wembley.

20 YEARS OF HURT

Scotland have not qualified for the finals of a major tournament since the 1998 World Cup finals in France. Another failure would mean two decades of standing on the outside looking in. Desperation grows by the campaign but hope is dwindling.

IS IT WIN OR BUST?

Scotland are in fourth place with four points from three games, with the only win coming against Malta in the section opener. There is no margin for error. No one in the Scots’ camp will say it but anything less than a win and another campaign is over. If it is not effectively over already.

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