Strachan: Ireland game was no ‘bloodbath’

Gordon Strachan

Gordon Strachan has dismissed suggestions Scotland’s 1-0 victory over the Republic of Ireland was over-physical.

The Scots beat Martin O’Neill’s men in a tense clash at Celtic Park on Friday to keep their 2016 European Championship qualifying hopes very much alive.

Much was made about the robust and physical nature of the game but Strachan, speaking ahead of tonight’s friendly against England (kick-off 8pm), insists no lines were crossed.

“It was physical but fair,” he insisted. “I think people think it was some sort of bloodbath, it was nothing like that.

“It was people going toe to toe and respecting each other. There is a big difference between that and a bloodbath, which we have seen many a time over the years.

“It was a game played in the right manner and everyone gave it their best.

“I thought it was played in a terrific spirit and I know it is going to be the same tomorrow night.”

Strachan is wrestling with a selection dilemma ahead of England’s visit to Glasgow.

Victory over their Auld Enemy would complete a morale-boosting double but Strachan is keen to give some of those who were not involved against the Irish a run-out.

Darren Fletcher missed training yesterday as he was not feeling well while fellow midfielder James Morrison returned after missing the Ireland game due to illness.

Strachan will also “keep an eye” on goalkeeper David Marshall, all of which will also come into consideration when he names his team to face the Three Lions.

“I would like to give everyone the experience of playing in the game but I have to balance it with the fact I want to win as well,” he said.

“That is what we have to think about.”

For his part, England boss Roy Hodgson hopes the experience of running out in front of the Celtic Park cauldron will shape up his youngsters for the rigours of international football.

A near sell-out crowd is expected at the 60,000-seater arena famous around Europe for the ear-splitting noise generated by Celtic support on big Champions League nights.

It will be the Tartan Army who take up residence tonight, though — but Hodgson is convinced the decibel levels will not drop.

He said: “Our approach to the game is exciting, it is a big game and we will be given a tough test. Scotland will be keen to win the game and I hope we feel the same way.

“We don’t see so many of these games between the countries now. Last season we played them and it was very tight.

“We are the away team and Scotland have the home advantage because Celtic Park is a fantastic stadium to play in. The fans give Celtic, and I am sure Scotland, incredible support. We will have to deal with that and not let it affect us mentally. Our younger players might not have had that experience.”


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