England ‘can’t be shrinking violets’ against Scotland, says Gareth Southgate

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Gareth Southgate has said that England will not make the mistake of under-estimating Scotland on Friday evening and has told his players not to be shrinking violets when they face Steve Clarke’s side at Wembley.

The perception of English arrogance has often been a factor in a historically charged fixture but Southgate is confident his team will not take their eye off the ball after beating Croatia in their opening group game at Euro 2020.

Related: England v Scotland will reflect how both have changed, on and off field | Jonathan Liew

England will start as favourites and their manager, who beat Scotland as a player at Euro 96, has urged his players to rise to the occasion. “I’ve never felt I’ve been involved with an England team that didn’t respect Scotland and didn’t appreciate how difficult the games were going to be,” Southgate said. “To talk about the team now, that’s not how they are. They know the quality of players that they’re playing against.

“They’re teammates with some of those players, so they know exactly what they’re capable of. These players have a level of humility that is really important. We pride ourselves on it. We have got to have confidence. We can’t be shrinking violets going into an experience like this one, so we’ve got to be prepared and not undersell the event.

“But also we don’t want to overplay that in the minds of the players. We want them in the performance state where they’re focused, where they’re ready for the challenge, but also that we go and play.”

Southgate, who reported that Harry Maguire would be in England’s matchday squad after an ankle injury, remembered a frenzied 2-2 draw in a World Cup qualifier against Scotland at Hampden Park in 2017.

“We learned a lot,” he said. “For this team it was a moment where they didn’t panic when they went behind. That had happened in the past. They showed themselves that they could come back from difficult situations and we’ve been able to do that in the past few years.

“Good teams win games late. They are capable of coming back from setbacks. Also sometimes you can go with experienced players and expect them to handle those sorts of games – and it doesn’t always work out that way. It was probably one of the moments when I started to think about younger players who were a bit more fearless.”

Southgate, who looks set to replace Kyle Walker with Reece James at right-back and could replace Kieran Trippier with Luke Shaw at left-back, also thought back to accepting the England job on a permanent footing after initially taking over on an interim basis in 2016.

“When we saw what happened with Christian Eriksen the other day, it was just another reminder that you have got to go for things in life and give them the best possible shot,” he said. “At least when you’re finished, you don’t have regrets about things you did not have a go at, or performances that were inhibited. We have got to go for it.”

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