England v Scotland: Wembley can inspire us - Gordon Strachan

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England v Scotland: Gordon Strachan says Scots know what's at stake
World Cup qualifying Group F: England v Scotland
Venue: Wembley Stadium Date: Friday, 11 November Kick-off: 19:45 GMT
Coverage: Listen on BBC Radio 5 live, BBC Radio Scotland & BBC Sport app; live text commentary on BBC Sport website & app

Gordon Strachan has urged the Scotland players to be inspired by the intensity of the rivalry with England.

He wants them to use the "passion" of the Friday night's game "to play better than we've ever played before".

The Scotland manager warned his squad, though, not to be too caught up in the atmosphere of the World Cup qualifier at Wembley.

"If you get too emotional, you can lose focus," Strachan warned.

"The importance of the game is to not be caught up in the emotion, but use the emotion and passion to run further than you've ever run before, to jump higher than you've jumped before, to concentrate more.

"[The atmosphere] could focus you. It could spook a few people.

"Since we met up on Sunday evening, the focus has been tremendous. They're oblivious to anything else but the game of football on Friday night and they feel pleased they're the group taking on England and trying to make up our points total again."

A win for Scotland would see them draw level on points with the group leaders, but England are unbeaten in 32 qualifying matches.

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Strachan emphasised the belief he still holds in his players, despite the double-header last month when Scotland lost ground and suffered a bout of introspection, drawing 1-1 at home to Lithuania and losing 3-0 in Slovakia.

"We've got a lot of good characters about the place," Strachan said.

"When we go into this game, as a manager you go to your bed thinking, 'will somebody let me down?' With this squad: no.

"They might not play terrifically well, but they give everything. This is a great group of lads to work with. I don't go to bed thinking I'll be let down by somebody who doesn't take responsibility, doesn't put 100% in.

"We've not been too pleased with the last two performances, but any game that we played after the last two games we'd be desperate to try to make up ground again.

"This game is a chance to catch up and make ourselves feel better about ourselves. In the last few years we have felt decent about ourselves, felt we've given it our best effort. So it's getting back to that level of feeling good about yourself.

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"Our work in the last third [has to improve]. Even in the Slovakia game we feel got into good areas in the last third but we weren't clinical enough in that area. It's a matter of a couple of passes, they can make a big difference to team performances.

"Every time I meet with this group of lads, I get the same intensity in training, the same discipline, the same desire, so that is unquestionable. Their ability at times in certain areas, it's up to us to improve on that. You can only give 100%, and that's what these lads give."

Strachan has no injury concerns ahead of the game, with Scott Brown, Steven Fletcher and Gordon Greer all having trained yesterday, or with his options at left-back despite missing Andrew Robertson and Kieran Tierney.

He says Brown's return adds more strength in depth to central midfield, but also physical brawn and experience, although Darren Fletcher will retain the captaincy despite Brown coming back from his short-lived international retirement.

Strachan had little response to the criticisms of Stoke City midfielder Charlie Adam, though, who has been left out of the squad on a regular basis and said that his "face doesn't fit".

World Cup qualifying - Uefa Group F

"It's made no difference to me one little bit," Strachan said. "Everybody has an opinion about the team, about the squad.

"There's a lot of people who would love to be in the squad, but the group I've got here are truly magnificent and anything that comes from elsewhere doesn't make any difference.

"I know we're all passionate to be in the squad, that's good. I can't answer everything. The main thing we're thinking about is the group of players we've got just now."

Strachan faces a pivotal moment in Group F, but also his own tenure as Scotland manager, since he reflected on his position following the defeat to Slovakia.

He would not be drawn on describing the game against England as a must-win encounter, though, only that he and Scotland will need to take stock afterwards.

"You never know in football," Strachan said. "All we're interested in at this moment is through the week we've enjoyed the training and the challenge coming up.

"After the game, we'll have a look at it and other results elsewhere and take it from there."

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