Belfast Telegraph

Reaching Russia more important than beating Three Lions: Souness

Former Scotland midfielder Graeme Souness has stressed the importance of reaching Russia in 2018 over beating England.

After a 5-1 win in Malta last month, Gordon Strachan's side prepare for the World Cup qualifying double-header against Lithuania at Hampden Park tomorrow and away to Slovakia next Tuesday before a trip to Wembley in November.

Souness (right), who played in the 1978, 1982 and 1986 World Cup finals, understands the attention which will surround the two fixtures against the Auld Enemy, who remain favourites to win the group despite having Gareth Southgate instated as temporary boss following the departure of Sam Allardyce.

However, the 63-year-old former Rangers and Liverpool boss, capped 54 times, said: "Gordon will try to get the message across that this is about three points.

"You can't afford to get caught up in the old enemy thing. You would take losing to them twice and winning every other game and getting there.

"It is like when I went to Ibrox and said I don't mind losing to Celtic if we win the league and (people said), 'what?'

"It is always about qualification. The bragging rights by beating England only last for a few weeks.

"The excitement of going to a tournament, the build-up, being there. The benefits to Scottish football would be far greater us going if we lost twice to England, than beating England twice and not going there".

Belfast Telegraph


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