GORDON STRACHAN will rightly claim the lion’s share of praise if Scotland shock England at Hampden on Saturday.
But Craig Gordon reckons a debt will also be owed to a man who won’t be anywhere near the dug-out next weekend – Brendan Rodgers.
The Celtic boss has been hailed for turning the Hoops into the Treble-winning Invincibles this season.
In doing so, he has also transformed the Parkhead club’s Scottish contingent.
Six Parkhead stars started as the national team rekindled their World Cup dream against Slovenia in March.
The same six – Gordon, Kieran Tierney, Scott Brown, Stuart Armstrong, James Forrest and Leigh Griffiths – could all feature against England.
And should Scotland’s manager opt for the full Celtic set, Gordon reckons the hoped-for victory would be made extra special.
“Yes, it would,” he said.
“We have a lot to thank Brendan for, and how that has transferred over into the national team as well.
“A lot of the combinations that we practice at Celtic, we are able to transfer to the national team.
“So I am sure Brendan will take a bit of the credit for that as well.
“He will watch the game and he knows what we are trying to do. He has got a lot to do with that as well.”
Gordon added: “There can be a spin-off for Scotland. The manager is always trying to improve us.
“He is continually trying to improve the team in all aspects, whether it be tactically, mentally or making sure we are adaptable to all situations.
“We do that every week. The more we do it, the more we learn and the better team we are going to become.”
Scotland’s performance against Slovenia stands as proof.
The three points were, of course, vital in keeping the Dark Blues’ World Cup hopes alive.
Yet Gordon reckons the real value of that night runs much deeper – and should inspire the Scots against England.
“Beating Slovenia was huge,” he said. “But not only that, the manner of the performance was really good.
“We pressed the ball, got it back in good areas and created chances. So there were a lot of positives to be taken out of that game.
“That can give everyone positivity going into the next one – which just happens to be England.
“We have put ourselves into a bit of a better place. Now we need to keep on putting in performances of a similar standard.”
After sealing a historic Treble with Celtic last Saturday, beating England at Hampden would be the perfect cherry on Gordon’s cake.
“It would cap an incredible campaign,” he admitted.
“It has been my best season yet. I think it’s the same for every single person here at Celtic.”
Gordon stands together with his Celtic team-mates – but he also stands apart.
Having been robbed of so many years through injury, he walks a different, more reflective path.
Incredibly, at 34, he is in the form of his career. Proving to his one-time doubters that he has still got what it takes to perform at the top level is a definite motivator.
But he insists his major concern – and that of his Scotland squad-mates – is proving that they are better than the 3-0 defeat England dished out at Wembley last November.
“We performed really well at times at Wembley. We created chances which could have changed the game” he explained.
“We didn’t defend very well but we defended a lot better against Slovenia.
“We were a little bit guilty against England of trying to attack too quickly. But against Slovenia, we got the difference between keeping the ball and attacking just right.
“We got a lot stronger and kept the ball in the right areas. That was more pleasing. We controlled the game better.
“It is easier at home than it is at away. But we certainly controlled the game better and we want to continue that against England.”
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