WE’VE SCOT TO QUAL­IFY FOR BRAZIL

Baines sees clash as start of a big push

Midweek Sport - - SPORT - By IAN WIN­ROW

LEIGHTON BAINES ad­mits tonight’s clash with Scot­land marks the start of a cru­cial two months for Roy Hodg­son’s un­der­pres­sure Eng­land.

Pre­mier League bosses have been queu­ing up to slam the de­ci­sion to sched­ule the Wem­b­ley friendly just three days be­fore the big kick-off.

But Baines in­sists there is no way the meet­ing with the Auld En­emy should be dubbed as mean­ing­less with Eng­land’s make-or-break World Cup qual­i­fiers loom­ing.

The 141-year his­tory of the fix­ture and in­tense ri­valry be­tween the two sides will give the game an ex­tra edge.

Skir­mish

But Ever­ton left-back Baines is more con­cerned with the fact the match marks the fi­nal warm-up be­fore Hodg­son’s side face four games that could send the Three Lions to Brazil.

Baines said: “This is the start of a big sea­son of in­ter­na­tional football.

“There’s a lot of big games now to try to qual­ify for the tour­na­ment.

“This is the start of the prepa­ra­tion for us and hope­fully we’ll get some good work done, get some­thing out of the game and that will lead us for­ward go­ing into the qual­i­fiers.”

Baines and his team­mates will be des­per­ate to im­press and book their places in Hodg­son’s World Cup squad.

But the ten­sions cre­ated by the cross-bor­der skir­mish could prove a mas­sive dis­trac­tion.

The defender added: “This is a big fix­ture and ev­ery­one knows the his­tory that comes with this game.

“There will be an in­tense ri­valry amongst the fans and on the pitch.

“Al­though it’s a friendly there will be two teams want­ing to get one over on each other, so it will make for a good game.

“Both sides will be go­ing into the game with a sim­i­lar men­tal­ity and at­ti­tude and try to do our na­tions proud.”

The 28-year-old con­tin­ued: “Hope­fully that will add to the oc­ca­sion and make a good game for ev­ery­one to en­joy.

“When you play th­ese home na­tion ties, whether home or away, you do get a re­ally good at­mos­phere.

Plucked

“I was at the Wales game not too long ago and that was a re­ally good at­mos­phere. Ire­land re­cently brought some good fans over so we ex­pect Scot­land to do the same. It will be a good night at Wem­b­ley.”

The FA have been slammed for tak­ing up the chance to fill the gap on the in­ter­na­tional cal­en­dar, even though the top flight has yet to get un­der way.

But Manch­ester City keeper Joe Hart is adamant the play­ers have no prob­lem squeez­ing in an­other fix­ture de­spite the sum­mer lay-off.

Hart said: “Football is our lives. It is what we do. We have not just been plucked off the beach.

“You can’t af­ford to come back over­weight oth­er­wise you will lose your place.

“The way football is now most of the boys like to keep them­selves in good shape any­way.

“It will be pretty easy to get up for this fix­ture.”

GINGER GE­NIUS: Paul Sc­holes

(left) was the last Eng­land player to score against Scot­land

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