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Hart relishing Scotland clash

Joe Hart in training for England Photo: PA Images

Joe Hart was only two when England's annual meeting with Scotland was scrapped - but the intense rivalry between international football's oldest combatants means there is no need to hype up tomorrow's Wembley friendly.

England have met Scotland only three times since the ill-fated Rous Cup concept was abandoned five years after the demise of the Home International Championships.

Paul Gascoigne's memorable effort secured a Three Lions victory at Euro 96, with both away teams prevailing in a Euro 2000 play-off that England just scraped through on aggregate.

In more recent years, Germany and Argentina have become the team England must beat above all others, with Scotland sliding slowly down the FIFA rankings.

But tomorrow, a game first played in 1872, will have its 111th gathering.

And Hart is relishing the prospect.

Speaking on behalf of official England partners William Hill, Hart said: "It is going to be exciting..

"You know how everyone is going to be on the outside, which always makes the game more interesting.

"Scotland are a team we want to beat.

"You can't get away from that fact.

"It is good to have rivalry. I enjoy rivalry. And there is definitely rivalry between England and Scotland."

It has been suggested by plenty of people the middle of August is not the greatest time for such a fixture.

England's players are just days away from their opening Premier League games, and whilst the Scottish top flight is now into its third week, given only six members of Gordon Strachan's squad ply their trade north of the border, the visitors are likely to be inconvenienced almost as much.

Not that Hart views the situation that way.

After all, the days are long gone when the first aim of a pre-season regime was to recover fitness lost during idle summer days spent resting and abandoning a sportsman's nutritional regime.

"Football is our lives," said Hart. "It is what we do.

"We have not just been plucked off the beach.

"You can't afford to come back overweight otherwise you will lose your place.

"The way football is now most of the boys like to keep themselves in good shape anyway.

"You do get a short time away, which you enjoy. But that doesn't mean you are going wild because you need to be ready as soon as you start.

"It will certainly be pretty easy to get up for this fixture."

Unlike the England squad, with its sprinkling of world stars and high-profile Premier League players, Strachan has to make the best of what he has available.

That includes Jordan Rhodes, who has such an outstanding scoring record for Huddersfield and Blackburn without a top flight club being willing to take a punt on the 23-year-old.

Not that Hart views life outside the Premier League as a negative.

As someone who began his career at Shrewsbury, Hart knows how difficult it can be to get the opportunity to make a step up.

"Not everyone gets the chance to play in the Premier League," he said.

"It is a really tough league to get into.

"For the likes of Jordan Rhodes, who is doing all the right things and scoring loads of goals, it is only a matter of time.

"It is not due to ability. It is just getting that chance."

Hart will look to keep Rhodes, and the rest of a Scotland side that secured an outstanding win in Croatia on their last outing, at bay in order to maximise confidence ahead of vital World Cup qualifiers against Moldova and Ukraine next month.

"Hopefully we can get a style going and get a good performance under our belts because it is only a couple of weeks before we are back again."

williamhill.com are an Official Supporter of England and Official Betting Partner of the FA Cup.