Hart is rested as England coach plans changes in Celtic Park game
ENGLAND manager Roy Hodgson has confirmed that goalkeeper Joe Hart is to be rested for tomorrow’s friendly against Scotland and indicated that he intends to use the fixture to experiment.
Hodgson is set to hand a rare start to either Southampton’s Fraser Forster or West Brom’s Ben Foster for the match at Celtic Park, while striker Saido Berahino could be in line for a first cap.
“Joe Hart will be rested because I have still got the other two goalkeepers. They will come with us up to Scotland and one of those will play. Joe will go home,” said Hodgson.
“Obviously we have got players who I would like to see, so there is a potential for me to change things. Scotland is a tough game and we want to go up there with a big team.”
Forward Danny Welbeck, who scored twice in England’s 3-1 win over Slovenia in Saturday’s Euro 2016 qualifier, insists he is looking forward to an Auld Enemy clash in front of a fervent crowd.
“It’s going to be a great atmosphere,” Welbeck said. “I watched the game against the Republic of Ireland the other night [Scotland won 1-0 on Friday] and the atmosphere sounded unbelievable. I just can’t wait to get out there and taste it.”
Captain Wayne Rooney, however, has warned England’s youngsters not to underestimate Celtic Park’s intensity and how affecting it can be.
“You don’t realise until you actually play there what the atmosphere is like,” said Rooney, who has played there twice and watched games from the stands. “The atmosphere was great when I was in the crowd, unbelievable, but you don’t realise until you’re on that pitch what it’s like. So maybe a few of them, you might need to speak to them and say: ‘Listen, this is going to be hostile. Make sure you blank it out, relax, and play your normal game. Don’t get involved in it.’”
England beat Scotland 3-2 when the two sides last met, at Wembley in August last year.
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Friendly could prove ideal setting to hand the Burundi-born West Brom striker, who is in the squad for the first time, an international debut. Scored 10 goals in 13 games for England Under-21s and has netted eight in 14 for the baggies this term.
Scored the winner with his first touch in an England shirt in last year’s 3-2 victory over Scotland at Wembley, but is yet to register since his summer move from Southampton to Liverpool and, at 32, can hardly be considered one for the future.
Could win his first cap for two years thanks to his starring role in West Ham’s attacking renaissance. Downing has thrived in a similar diamond midfield system to that favoured by Roy Hodgson and, at 30, could be around for Euro 2016 finals.
Everton youngster has already shown glimpses of promise in England shirt but has found his path blocked by Raheem Sterling. Auditioning Barkley for role of back-up No10 would also allow Hodgson to rest Sterling, who last month complained of fatigue.
Yet to start for Arsenal since returning from a 10-month injury lay-off but back in the squad. The question for Hodgson may be where Walcott fits into a team now shorn of wingers and with better options in central attacking positions.