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Sir Kenny Dalglish: It’s a long way off, but we could beat England in Qatar

© Craig Williamson / SNS GroupJohn McGinn and Billy Gilmour take on Mason Mount during last June’s Euro 2020 tie at Wembley
John McGinn and Billy Gilmour take on Mason Mount during last June’s Euro 2020 tie at Wembley

It felt good to see Scotland in a World Cup Finals draw on Friday, even though we haven’t qualified yet.

Circumstances surrounding the war in Ukraine meant that we were in the hat in Qatar, alongside Wales and the Ukrainians.

Any of the three nations could end up in Group B with England, the United States and Iran. It’s a mouth-watering section.

It’s only natural to let the mind wander towards what it could be like at the Finals in November and December.

We played England at the Euro Finals last year, and came away with a 0-0 draw at Wembley.

We all know we deserved to win that night at Wembley. We played very well, and showed we belong at that level when we are on our game.

Make no mistake, if we get to Qatar we will give England a game.

No matter the time, the venue or the circumstances, I’d always fancy us to give England a good run for their money.

We could beat them.

When you look at the depth and quality of the England squad, you think they should be going there as one of the favourites to win the tournament.

For sure, Gareth Southgate and his players will be extremely disappointed if they don’t go very far in Qatar.

Indeed, some will feel that after getting to the semi-finals in 2018, and being runners-up in the Euros, that the next step is to win the World Cup.

But Steve Clarke and his players will be optimistic about what they will be able to do if they can lead our country to our first World Cup in 24 years.

© SNS
Scotland manager Steve Clarke

We were last there in 1998 in France, and we didn’t do well, failing to win any of our three games against Brazil, Norway and Morocco.

If we were to get there this year, I think we’d be looking to win games – and we have the players in the squad to do it.

However, I’m wary of getting too carried away.

First and foremost, a date will have to be found to play Ukraine, and that is going to be a difficult fixture. It will also be very emotional for obvious reasons.

Under the current circumstances, just about every person in the world will want Ukraine to beat us and Wales to reach the Finals.

That kind of outlook is totally understandable.

We can’t allow that to be on our minds. We need to be sharp and focused.

If we emerge victorious in that tie, we then travel to Cardiff. It will not be easy to overcome Gareth Bale and Co, that’s for sure.

But we are now unbeaten in eight games, and there were many positives from the recent friendly draws against Poland at Hampden, and in Austria last midweek.

We were two up in Vienna, and the depth of disappointment after losing two goals to them shows the levels we have reached.

We are definitely on the right track, and all we are waiting for now is to find out our fixtures in June. Will we be playing our World Cup ties, or sticking to the Nations League schedule?

That is in the hands of FIFA and UEFA, and we will wait patiently for a definitive answer.

What is not in doubt is the calibre of players we have.

It was great to see Aaron Hickey getting some game time. He is another cracker for the future.

John McGinn, once again, excelled. His goal against Austria was sublime. The cross from Kieran Tierney was brilliant, and John executed it with aplomb.

We now just need to keep our fingers crossed that everyone is fit and available for June.

That is something Steve can’t control. He can only work with the players who are able to turn up.

But they are all committed to the cause, and willing to give everything. It looks like a great group to be a part of.

The ultimate for them all would be to be in Qatar at the end of this year.

That is the one dream we all share.