Rooney’s Home Nations record cause for concern in Scotland trip


Wayne Rooney may have told the younger players in the England set-up to stand up and be counted ahead of their trip to bitter rivals Scotland, but they might well ask the same of him. The Three Lions talisman has never scored an international goal against any of the Home Nations in eight previous attempts.

If punters fancy he will change that, then back Rooney in Coral’s specially enhanced 3/1 wincast, but note there is a maximum stake of £20 on this bet. Chasing Sir Bobby Charlton’s goal record, the England captain has four in his last five caps, however, all from dead ball situations.

Roy Hodgson is 6/5 to lead the Three Lions to victory north of the border, with opposite number Gordon Strachan a 5/2 chance to upset Scotland’s Auld Enemy. A draw in this ‘Battle of Britain’ is priced at 23/10.

England have won on their last two visits to Glasgow, recording the same 2-0 result on both occasions. A repeat scoreline here comes in at 9/1. While Rooney has struggled to make an impact against fellow sides from the British Isles, the Three Lions have won six of their eight encounters with their near neighbours since losing 1-0 to the Scots in 1999.

Strachan is a 17/2 chance to mastermind that exact result at Celtic Park, and is toying with making changes. Both England and Scotland could select different stoppers, with Joe Hart released by the visitors and David Marshall hampered by a slight injury for the hosts.

Celtic custodians past and present Fraser Forster and Craig Gordon may thus come in. The Three Lions are rated more likely to keep a clean sheet at 29/20, with the Scots good value at 27/10 after shutting out the Republic of Ireland in a blood and thunder battle last time out.

James Morrison has returned to training for the home side after illness, but Scotland’s engine room pairing of Scott Brown and Charlie Mulgrew acquitted themselves well in his absence during the last Euro 2016 qualifier of the calendar year. West Bromwich Albion midfielder Morrison has scored against England before, however, and is a 7/1 shot to do so again.

Given injuries to James Forrest and Robert Snodgrass, punters would be forgiven for thinking Strachan is short in wide areas. Ikechi Anya’s Cindarella story could continue here, with the Watford winger making a significant step-up and look assured in international football. His endeavour is his own rewards, so punters should consider backing him at 7/2 in the anytime market.

Malaysian-born Shaun Maloney, meanwhile, has really raised his game in a Scotland shirt since returning from a serious injury. He followed up netting against Poland in Warsaw by grabbing an inventive winner over Ireland. Maloney is a 7/2 chance to score for a third international in a row.

In attack, Steven Fletcher misses out, so Strachan must decide whether to push Steven Naismith up front, start Chris Martin for the first time, or hand a debut to Sheffield Wednesday’s Stevie May. All are 2/1 chances in the anytime market. Other Scots targeting bows will be Derby County forward Johnny Russell (10/3), and maiden call-up and Rangers winger Lewis Macleod (11/4).

For Hodgson’s visitors, a senior international debut surely beckons for Burundi-born Baggies striker Saido Berahino. He is 5/4 to cap his bow with a goal anytime, and 5/1 to grab the opener. Everton talent Ross Barkley can also expect a run-out, and is a tasty 11/4 to invoke the spirit of a similar-style player from the previous generation, Paul Gascoigne, by netting against Scotland.

In-form Danny Welbeck would surely feel aggrieved if he played no part in this most fiercely fought of friendlies, after netting five times for England in four Euro 2016 qualifiers. He joins Theo Walcott in having scored against Scotland before, and both are 5/4 anytime chances to do so again.

Rickie Lambert may be struggling in a Liverpool shirt, but has somehow managed to cling on to a Three Lions squad place. He grabbed the winner on his international debut in the 3-2 Wembley victory over Scotland last August, and is 15/8 to net again, and a 13/2 chance to repeat scoring last.

This is one football match you cannot afford to miss. Scotland’s upturn in form and fortunes means they are more than just plucky hosts. It will be the sternest test England have faced since their World Cup humbling, and over 2.5 in the total goals markets is a fantastic 13/10 shout here.

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