Sport

Hodgson expects unbelievable atmosphere at Scotland games

Roy Hodgson's side will face Scotland on a Friday night at Wembley
Roy Hodgson's side will face Scotland on a Friday night at Wembley

England manager Roy Hodgson is anticipating an "unbelievable" atmosphere for England's World Cup qualifiers against Scotland.

Hodgson believes extra interest in the group will be stimulated by the Scotland matches, the first competitive meetings between the sides since a Euro 2000 play-off in 1999 where England won 2-1 on aggregate over two legs.

Hodgson said: "The Scotland fixture stands out as it's the oldest rivalry among football nations and if the friendlies are anything to judge by they will be very exciting games, and very tense and intense. The atmosphere will be unbelievable.

"If anyone wants to see what a really fanatic football atmosphere is like I would invite them to Wembley when we play Scotland or to the match up there and they will see what passionate football support is all about."

England were top seeds in the draw and avoided both Italy and France among the second seeds - in fact they landed perhaps the easiest second seeds in the form of Slovakia, though Hodgson said they should not be underestimated.

"Slovakia are doing very well at the moment, came out of Pot Two and that will be an interesting fixture for us as we haven't played them for a while," he said.

"When it comes to Slovenia and Lithuania we have very recent knowledge of playing them which I think is advantageous although having said that a year's a long time in football and it could be a year and half before we play them and their teams could change enormously in that period of time."

England won both their recent friendlies against Scotland, in 2013 and last year, but Scottish Football Association president Alan McRae said the competitive matches will be "a different ball game" under manager Gordon Strachan.

McRae said: "We have made steady process, Gordon has got the team playing - they are committed and organised and he has got them into great shape so although individually our players don't compare to England I think on the day they will.

"I'm sure Gordon and his staff and players will all look forward to these two games. This will be a totally different ball game to the two friendlies.

"I think we could sell the stadium out twice over at least so from a financial point of view it's very good too."