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local derby Ally McCoist believes England could crack under the pressure as they take on Scotland

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England manager Gareth Southgate during the press conference

England manager Gareth Southgate during the press conference

England manager Gareth Southgate during the press conference

Former Scotland striker Ally McCoist believes the pressure will be piled on Gareth Southgate and his England side on home soil in Euro 2020.

Speaking exclusively to the Sunday World at a Green King event, McCoist told us that Steve Clarke’s Scotland have already achieved their goal by making it through to their first major tournament since the 1998 World Cup finals.

Now they have been presented with the ultimate chance to make history when they take on old rivals England at Wembley on June 18, with McCoist convinced the home side will be weighed down by expectation.

“All the pressure is on England at the Euros and that will be magnified when they play Scotland,” stated McCoist.

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Ally McCoist (Andrew Milligan/PA)

Ally McCoist (Andrew Milligan/PA)

Ally McCoist (Andrew Milligan/PA)

“Everything that goes with being the home side playing in front of your own fans, they are already looking to get to the semi-finals, at worst. The beauty for Scotland is we don’t have that pressure.

“Man for man, England are clearly a better side and this is the best set of players they have had in a long, long time. I’m genuinely worried they might do very well this summer – and I’m sure people in Ireland have that same fear!

“They will be one of the most talented teams taking part in Euro 2020, but that kind of suits Scotland. We are better as the underdogs, and we are just so pleased to be in the tournament.

“What Scotland have on their side now is a handful of players who are operating at the highest level of the English game each week. That’s why we have seen signs of improvement.

“Andy Robertson, Kieran Tierney, Scott McTominay and John McGinn have all been playing well in the Premier League. That depth of talent gives Scotland a chance.

“To have players who are performing week-in, week-out in that company, it is the reason why we look better than we have done for a number of years.”

McCoist was part of the Scotland squad that played England during the Euro 96 finals, when David Seaman’s spot-kick save from Gary McAllister was quickly followed by an iconic Paul Gascoigne goal that saw Scotland lose.

As McCoist looks back on that occasion, he admits a shiver runs down his spine as the 2-0 defeat is just part of a story that lives long in the memory.

“England and Scotland had not played each other in a long time. It was a memorable day at Wembley, where the atmosphere somehow felt different,” he recalled.

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“The noise that day was just fantastic and in a year when we have seen so much football without fans, you have to remind yourself what a difference they make on days like that.

“You could sense that people realised they were witnessing something special. Even to this day, Euro 96 is a tournament people talk about.

“While I look back on it with regrets for obvious reasons, I also reflect on the match and, especially, the occasion with some fondness.

“It was a massive missed opportunity, there is no getting away from it – and no Scotland fan will ever forget it.

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Paul Gascoigne scored an “iconic” goal against Scotland (Neil Munns/PA)

Paul Gascoigne scored an “iconic” goal against Scotland (Neil Munns/PA)

Paul Gascoigne scored an “iconic” goal against Scotland (Neil Munns/PA)

“This is not a case of sour grapes because their second goal from Gascoigne was genius, but when you look back at the game, you will see that we were the better team for long periods and could have come away with at least a draw.

“When you look back at the game, you will see that we were the better team for long periods. We played so well in the first half of that match and I remember at half-time thinking we were well in the game.

“England had an interesting, shall we say, warm-up to the competition with all the headlines they created on a night out in Hong Kong prior to Euro 96, then they started the tournament with a draw against Switzerland, so all the pressure was on them as their media were on their backs.

“We thought if we could keep them quiet for 45 minutes, the nerves would kick in. We did that, but they went ahead through Alan Shearer just after half-time and then we had a chance to draw level with the penalty. A few seconds later, Gascoigne had his bit of magic and it was all over.”

Scotland take on Luxembourg in a warm-up game today before opening their Euro 2020 campaign against the Czech Republic on Monday June 14.

The England game four days later will define their hopes of coming through a group that also features 2018 World Cup finalists Croatia.

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