LONDON (Reuters) - England must show “emotional control” when they face Scotland in a World Cup qualifier at Wembley on Friday, interim manager Gareth Southgate said on Monday.
The first competitive clash between the nations since 1999 is guaranteed to be highly charged and while England are firm favourites, Southgate said form goes out of the window when the old rivals meet.
“Whatever happened with their results, it does not reflect their performances,” Southgate told a news conference.
“Their mentality for a game like this is unquestionable and they have unquestionable spirit. We will have to better that and outplay them to win the game,” he added.
“We have to have emotional control going into the game. It is the oldest international fixture. We will make sure if the players don’t know about it, that they are made aware of it in the early part of the week.”
England are top of Group F with seven points from three games while Scotland are fourth with four following a heavy defeat by Slovakia last time out.
Scotland did win the most recent competitive clash between the sides, however, a 1-0 victory in a qualifying playoff for the 2000 European Championship, although they had lost the home leg 2-0 and England advanced.
Southgate is halfway through his four-game stint in charge following the sacking of Sam Allardyce.
They also play Spain in a friendly next week after which a decision will be made on whether Southgate continues.
“I was asked to take four matches and I have got another two really exciting matches and I am looking forward to that,” he said.
”I have enjoyed it all and what happens to me is not important, it is about the team.
“I want to leave the team and country on top of the group at the end of Friday night, that is my only focus.”
England will be without midfielders Dele Alli and Danny Drinkwater plus goalkeeper Fraser Forster through injury, while Theo Walcott could drop out as his wife is expecting a baby.
“We are not totally sure but Theo could disappear at any time with his wife expecting,” Southgate said.
Late on Monday Sunderland keeper Jordan Pickford was called up to replace Forster while West Ham United left back Aaron Cresswell was also included for the first time.
Fit-again Tottenham Hotspur striker Harry Kane returned to the squad after missing the qualifiers against Malta and Slovenia and there was also a recall for Arsenal’s Jack Wilshere who is currently on loan at Bournemouth.
Kane scored a penalty in a 1-1 draw at Arsenal in the Premier League on Sunday, his first action since injuring his ankle on Sept. 18.
“It’s obviously early stages of coming back from quite a long injury but we saw (against Arsenal) the desire that he has and the knack of being in the right place at the right time - not only the goal he scored, but a couple of other chances. It’s good to have him back in with the squad,” Southgate said.
Reporting by Martyn Herman, additional reporting by Ken Ferris; Editing by Ed Osmond and Pritha Sarkar