|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|
There is not long to go before Friday’s match at Wembley and I would be lying if I said I was particularly confident that England will beat Scotland, because I am not.
I stopped presuming that England will win games a long time ago. I don’t think we can take that for granted anymore.
If anyone needs any reminding of why I feel that way, then just think back to the Iceland game at Euro 2016 and you have your answer. It actually goes back further than that though.
That is not to say I am scared of Scotland but it will be an extremely tough game. I know from personal experience that playing them is never easy, and anything can happen.
Because of the occasion and the rivalry, both teams will be really up for it. It was like that in the three matches I played against Scotland, at Euro 96 and then home and away in the play-off for Euro 2000.
It is the same for the fans, and the atmosphere will be white-hot. That is the one thing that is guaranteed to be great, even if the game itself isn’t.
The England players should not be intimidated by an atmosphere like that, in fact they should be looking forward to playing in it.
But there is only one way they will enjoy their evening, and that is if they get the right result.
England and Scotland’s standard is not where we want it to be
I will never again say before a game that on paper we should win because with England you just never know. We have been here before, as supposed favourites, and been kicked on the backside.
What I would say is that I think the standard of both the England and Scotland sides is not where either set of fans would want it to be.
Neither team is in particularly good shape which is a shame, but we are where we are, and we have to get on with it.
This latest meeting might not be great to watch but England against Scotland are great games to play in.
I always found I could get away with a little bit more than in other international games and be a bit more aggressive.
They are more like a Premier League game, with spells where the tempo is fast and furious, compared to a typical international, which can be very cagey.
You have to stay calm, though, because it is easy to get carried away when the tackles are flying in and going down to 10 men would be a disaster for England.
Could England play with three at the back?
Earlier this week I tweeted about whether interim boss Gareth Southgate might consider using three centre-backs against Scotland.
Danny Rose and Kyle Walker did quite well as wing-backs when Tottenham used that system against Arsenal last weekend, as did Eric Dier who dropped back from midfield into the Spurs defence.
Our centre-backs have experience of it too. Gary Cahill uses it at Chelsea, and John Stones has played it at Manchester City under Pep Guardiola this season.
It was just a guess, and I have not heard anything to suggest that is the case but, I just wondered if it might be in Gareth’s thinking too.
There is a perception that his future depends on the result of this game, but it is hard to know for sure.
If we draw or lose, there is no-one breaking down the door to say ‘I am here for the job’. I do not see a huge list of alternative candidates waiting to take over.
I hope we win and he will probably be offered the job on a permanent basis if we do, but even that would not make anything certain – Gareth has said himself that he has to decide whether he wants to take it, win, lose or draw.
Do England need a good performance as well as the right result?
In an ideal world, we would get a good performance as well as a good result but I think everyone would take the result if they could.
Being completely honest, in this fixture that is all that matters.
The first time I played against Scotland, at Euro 96, we got the win we wanted and it is remembered as being a very good performance too.
But the first half of that game was not a great display by us and the game hinged on Gary McAllister’s penalty.
If McAllister had scored, then it might have been a very different story. They would have been back at 1-1 with their tails up.
Instead, David Seaman saved it and, a few minutes later, Paul Gascoigne scored his memorable goal – I was squirting water down his throat in our famous ‘dentist’s chair’ celebration and the day was ours.
That shows how the difference between success and failure can be minute. On that occasion we got a little bit of luck, and that might play its part in the outcome on Friday too.
Alan Shearer was speaking to BBC Sport’s Chris Bevan.
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