WAYNE Rooney will tell the younger members of the England squad they must not be intimidated by the hostile atmosphere at Celtic Park on Tuesday.
Rooney marked his entry into the 100 club with a crucial penalty on Saturday as England came from behind to record a 3-1 win over Slovenia.
Focus now turns to Tuesday’s international against Scotland in Glasgow. Although a friendly by name, there will be no sense of bonhomie between the two sides or the rival fans inside the famous 60,000-seater stadium.
Rooney knows all about the white-hot atmosphere of Celtic Park.
He played there twice with Manchester United and he has also watched from the stands after being given tickets by his old team-mates Alan Stubbs and Roy Keane.
Given the intense rivalry between the two nations, Rooney expects the decibel levels to be even higher on Tuesday night and he therefore feels his inexperienced team-mates may need some calm words of reassurance before kick-off.
“You don’t realise until you actually play there what the atmosphere is like,” the England captain said.
“The atmosphere was great when I was in the crowd, unbelievable, but you don’t realise until you’re on that pitch what it’s like so maybe a few of them, you might need to speak to them and say: ‘Listen, this is going to be hostile. Make sure you blank it out, relax, and play your normal game. Don’t get involved in it.’”
The atmosphere will be the polar opposite to the one inside Wembley on Saturday.
Once Rooney had gained his commemorative golden cap from Sir Bobby Charlton and his two children had left the field, the 82,305 fans inside Wembley quickly fell silent.
It was easy to see why. England’s first-half performance was terrible - among the worst in a long while.
The only time they looked like scoring was when Samir Handanovic had to stick his right leg out to deflect Jasmin Kurtic’s woeful back-pass wide.
The night before, Scotland maintained the pressure on their group rivals Poland and Germany with a hard-fought 1-0 win over the Republic of Ireland.
And Rooney thinks the Scots will pose a tough test for England next week.
“Scotland are doing well at the minute,” he said.
“They seem to have found a bit of form under Gordon Strachan, so we know it’ll be a tough game.”
England versus Scotland is the oldest fixture in international football and until 25 years ago there was an annual meeting between the two nations.
Last August’s action-packed friendly at Wembley, which England won 3-2, led to calls for the return of the fixture on a yearly basis and Rooney seems to be in favour of that too.
“That would be nice,” he said.
“It’s obviously not down to me, but it would be good.”
Slovenia quickly crumbled on Saturday after Rooney won and converted his 59th minute penalty.
Danny Welbeck scored his 12th and 13th England goals to stretch England’s lead at the top of Group E to six points.
Roy Hodgson’s only disappointment was that his team had conceded their first qualification goal thanks to Jordan Henderson’s 57th minute own goal.
“When we went a goal down it was important we came straight back and we did that,” the England manager said.
“In the end it was a very good victory. We have beaten Switzerland away and Slovenia at home and we are in a good position.
“Our goal before this game was to go into the New Year with 12 points, unbeaten.
“The only disappointment is that we now can no longer boast about having a clean sheet but I suppose we still can boast that no opponent has scored against us because we put the ball in our own goal for them.”
Hodgson confirmed after the match that Joe Hart had been released from the squad.
With the Manchester City goalkeeper rested, either former Celtic man Fraser Forster or West Brom’s Ben Foster will be given a chance to impress in goal against Scotland.