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Norwich City skipper Russell Martin relishing big atmosphere for Scotland’s crunch World Cup qualifying clash with England

PUBLISHED: 16:35 05 June 2017 | UPDATED: 16:59 05 June 2017

Russell Martin battles for Scotland against Slovenia at Hampden Park earlier this year. Picture: Jane Barlow/PA Wire

Russell Martin battles for Scotland against Slovenia at Hampden Park earlier this year. Picture: Jane Barlow/PA Wire

PA Wire

Russell Martin is relishing the prospect of Scotland’s crunch clash with England in front of a full house at Hampden Park on Saturday evening.

Martin and Norwich City team-mate Steven Naismith are both in Gordon Strachan’s squad for a match the Scots need to win to keep their hopes of World Cup qualification alive.

The Canaries captain would have preferred the game to be played at Celtic Park or Ibrox though, as he feels the homes of Glasgow giants Celtic and Rangers are more intimidating for visiting teams.

“I remember the Ireland and England games at Celtic Park and the atmosphere was really something else,” Martin said. “The two best atmospheres I’ve played in for Scotland are Georgia at Ibrox and Ireland at Celtic Park. No doubt about it.

“Hampden is great, it’s a good stadium with a lot of tradition and history, but I think at times it doesn’t help us because in British football you’re used to the fans being right on top of you.

“It’s our home ground of course and we’ve been pretty good there but maybe, sometimes, with the other countries which come and play there, they’re probably going to get an easier ride than you would if you played at Ibrox or at Celtic Park for every game, where the fans really get behind you and create the noise and the atmosphere.”

Scotland are fourth in Group F ahead of the game, with England four points clear of Slovakia in top spot and Slovenia a point further back in third.

Strachan’s side won 5-1 in Malta but were held to a 1-1 draw in Lithuania before 3-0 defeats in Slovakia and England. Beating Slovenia 1-0 at Hampden in March has reignited their hopes of reaching Russia 2018 and Martin knows the importance of the game.

“Nothing beats an international match at home in front of 50,000 people,” he continued, speaking to Scottish newspaper The Herald. “When the hopes of a nation are on you, it’s just absolutely brilliant.

“Nothing compares to that, whether it be the approach to the game, the build-up, how much it means to people, it’s absolutely massive.”

The nine group winners go through to the World Cup automatically and the eight runners-up with the best record against the teams finishing first, third, fourth and fifth in their group go into the play-offs, so another defeat to Gareth Southgate’s team would leave a play-off place looking unlikely.

Martin added: “I was speaking about it with the lads before. You can write yourself in the history books in a game like this, as one of the players who scores a goal to win you the game. I don’t think you’d have to buy a drink for years in Glasgow if you manage that.

“It doesn’t matter whether it’s a world class goal from 25 yards or a tap-in. Nobody usually remembers that in 20 years, they just remember who scored it and the day you beat England.”

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