If we play like that in June, we’ll beat the English, says Strachan
Scotland manager claims action replay of the Slovenia game will put us on the front foot
GORDON STRACHAN believes Scotland are capable of defeating England in their Russia 2018 qualifier at Hampden in June – if they can replicate the performance they produced against Slovenia.
However, the national team manager, whose side moved up to fourth place in Group F with their 1-0 win at Hampden on Sunday evening, has admitted his strikers need to get more game time ahead of their next match.
Only one of the five forwards he selected in his initial squad for the Canada and Slovenia double header – Sheffield Wednesday player Jordan Rhodes – has been featuring regularly for their club side.
Strachan opted to play Leigh Griffiths in attack even though the Celtic man has only made four appearances as a replacement this year and his lone front man missed an open goal before hobbling off injured.
The 60-year-old, who would almost certainly have lost his job if his side had failed to win their fifth group outing, was relieved when substitute Chris Martin netted his 88th-minute winner.
He believes the likes of Steven Fletcher, Griffiths, Mar tin and Steven Naismith must play more often between now and the end of the 2016/17 campaign to increase their prospects of success against Gareth Southgate’s men.
Asked if Scotland could beat England if they can scale the heights they attained against Slovenia, Strachan said: “Yeah, but what I would like is for players to get a regular game now, a real regular game, in the up front area.
“It was a big call [to play Griffiths] anyway. We have five strikers and only of them gets a game. And Jordan has only been getting that in the last four weeks. Before that he wasn’t getting a game either.
“I think a Griff that’s played 10 games scores those goals. I do. I think he does that. But it is not easy when you aren’t playing regularly to come out and hit the crossbar and hit the post and keep going. But he did it.”
Strachan, whose side is now two points behind second-placed Slovakia, has backed Griffiths, who came off injured at the start of the second half, to bounce back from the disappointment.
The 26-year-old, who struck the crossbar and post with two shots in an opening 45 minutes his side dominated totally, has still not scored a goal at international level despite making 12 appearances for his country now.
But Strachan said: “Griff did a lot of good things for us. You could see the size of their two centre halves. He was getting knocked and shoved, but he got back up again. When you see that from further behind, the guys will say: ‘Oh! I’ll join in here!’ I don’t think there was anybody who played badly. Everybody was fantastic.”
“He won’t get downhearted, not at all. How can you get downhearted by leading the line and leading a performance that is as good as we have seen here for a long? I think he should be very proud of that.”
Strachan, though, confirmed he will not be speaking to Brendan Rodgers at Celtic about the possibility of Griffiths getting more games once the Parkhead club have finally wrapped up their sixth consecutive Scottish title. “Brendan looks after his team first,” he said.
I don’t think there was anybody who played badly. Everyone was fantastic
SEEN SOMETHING YOU LIKE? Gordon Strachan says Scotland’s late win, courtesy of Chris Martin (inset), was encouraging.