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Preview: Scotland vs. Northern Ireland – prediction, team news, lineups



Sports Mole previews Tuesday’s friendly clash between Scotland and Northern Ireland, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.

Aiming to get back on track after a heavy loss in Amsterdam, Euro 2024-bound Scotland continue their build-up to this summer’s finals against Northern Ireland on Tuesday.

Two regional rivals meet at Hampden, where the hosts hope to end a six-game streak without victory; meanwhile, their visitors will be buoyed by recent results.

Match preview

© Reuters

Following the high of securing a second straight European Championship qualification, Scotland have endured their worst winless run since 2008, with Friday’s 4-0 defeat to the Netherlands continuing a worrying dip in fortunes.

It could have been so different for Steve Clarke‘s side at the Johan Cruijff ArenA, where they hit the goal frame through Ryan Christie before the hosts went in front; Hearts striker Lawrence Shankland then struck the crossbar during the second half.

However, Scotland then folded in the game’s final stages, and a tally of 18 goals conceded across their last six matches – as many as they shipped in the previous 22 combined – is certainly cause for concern.

The Tartan Army won five successive Euro qualifiers last year, to finish second in Group A and secure automatic qualification, but ahead of June’s group-stage tussle with Hungary, Switzerland and hosts Germany, they have found themselves in need of a morale-boosting victory.

As Scotland have scored at least once in their last 17 home fixtures – their best such run since the 1970s – Clarke can be confident his team will find the net on Tuesday evening, but they have also won just one of their last 12 friendlies, losing each of the last four.

Northern Ireland's Trai Hume celebrates after the match on November 20, 2023© Reuters

In contrast to their hosts, Northern Ireland struggled during Euro 2024 qualification, but they are showing signs of improvement as the second stint of Michael O’Neill starts to build some momentum.

After a run of seven defeats from eight in all competitions, they have gone unbeaten in their last two matches, upsetting Denmark in their final qualifier before holding out for a draw in Romania on Friday night.

Jamie Reid scored just seven minutes into his long-delayed international debut – made more than a decade after featuring for the Under-21s – and despite conceding an equaliser midway through the first half, a young side starring Liverpool prospect Conor Bradley stood firm until the final whistle.

Northern Ireland therefore head to Glasgow in good spirits, and with O’Neill naming a starting XI with an average age of 23.5 in Bucharest, the future now looks a little brighter.

However, having gone without a win in Scotland since 1974 – scoring only one goal in 10 attempts – they will still start as outsiders against a nation sitting 40 places above them in FIFA’s world rankings.

Scotland friendly form:

Scotland form (all competitions):

Northern Ireland friendly form:

Northern Ireland form (all competitions):

Team News

Scotland manager Steve Clarke on October 12, 2023© Reuters

It remains to be seen whether Lawrence Shankland will start again following his glaring miss on Friday, but the Hearts captain may hold off challenges from Che Adams and Lyndon Dykes nonetheless.

Steve Clarke is likely to make some changes to Scotland’s starting XI, though, and 41-year-old Craig Gordon is in contention to earn his 75th cap in goal; Stuart Armstrong and Bologna’s Lewis Ferguson will both be pushing for selection in midfield.

Grant Hanley withdrew from the hosts’ squad, alongside fellow centre-back Scott McKenna, but Jack Hendry, Liam Cooper, Ryan Porteous, John Souttar and Kieran Tierney are all available to fill either two or three places in central defence.

Meanwhile, Northern Ireland are short of some experience at the back this month, in the absence of Manchester United’s Jonny Evans.

In fact, 29-year-old Jamie Reid – who earned his senior debut against Romania after scoring 21 goals in 44 games for Stevenage this season – was the oldest player in the lineup named by Michael O’Neill last time out.

Bailey Peacock-Farrell – wearing a mask after breaking his nose playing for club side Aarhus – replaced Conor Hazard at half time; this time, roles could be reversed.

Scotland possible starting lineup:
Gordon; Souttar, Hendry, Porteous, Robertson; McTominay, Gilmour; Armstrong, McGinn, Ferguson; Adams

Northern Ireland possible starting lineup:
Peacock-Farrell; Bradley, McNair, Toal, Hume, Spencer; Price, Thompson, S. Charles, McMenamin; Reid

SM words green background

We say: Scotland 1-0 Northern Ireland

In their first meeting for nine years, these neighbouring nations should play out a close contest, perhaps decided by a slim margin in Scotland’s favour. Always a threat at Hampden, the hosts are sure to score at least once, which could be enough to see off a young Northern Ireland side.

For data analysis of the most likely results, scorelines and more for this match please click here.

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