Interim England boss Gareth Southgate has moved to douse the fanfare surrounding his own position as the Three Lions prepare for a double-header which is likely to decide his long-term future.
Southgate has two games of his four-match audition left with Friday’s World Cup qualifier against Scotland and next Tuesday’s friendly showdown against Spain likely to determine his fate.
The 46-year-old began his temporary reign with an underwhelming 2-0 victory over Malta, followed by an arduous goalless draw in Slovenia, although Southgate is not preferred to contemplate what two positive results might mean for him.
“I’m very clear that I was asked to take the four matches,” said Southgate. “I’ve got two really exotic matches to take charge of and I’m really looking forward to doing that.
“What happens to me isn’t important over the next 10 days, it’s about us preparing to beat Scotland and about leaving the team and the country top of qualifying at the end of Friday night. That’s my only focus.
“The only thing I can say is I’m not even considering the result going wrong. What happens to me is not important. What’s important is I’m leading my country in an important and prestigious game and the focus is on preparing the team as well as possible.”
Southgate was a member of England’s defence in 1999 when Scotland defeated Kevin Keegan’s side 1-0 at Wembley, and despite the modern-day vintage winning just one of their last five matches, the former centre-half is wary of a backlash.
“Whatever happened with their results, it does not reflect their performances,” added Southgate. “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. We have to have emotional control. It is important our players have an understanding of the history of 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.”
Southgate has confirmed that he will monitor the fitness of Tottenham striker Harry Kane after he returned to action during Sunday’s north London derby following a seven-week injury lay-off.
Arsenal forward Theo Walcott could miss Friday’s clash as his wife is due to give birth this week, although Southgate has been buoyed by the return of Adam Lallana, Raheem Sterling and Jack Wilshere to his squad. West Ham full-back Aaron Cresswell and goalkeeper Jordan Pickford were last night added to his party after injuries to Danny Drinkwater and Fraser Forster.