Sheffield Wednesday: Wembley return for Barry Bannan as Scotland look to bounce back
Barry Bannan is relishing a return to Wembley after suffering Play-Off Final heartbreak at the national stadium last May.
The influential Owls midfielder is expected to line-up for Scotland when they take on England in their latest World Cup qualifier tomorrow night.
The Scots slipped to fourth in Group F after picking up only one point from their October clashes against Lithuania and Slovakia.
Bannan, named in the Scots squad alongside club teammate Steven Fletcher, who is currently receiving treatment for a knee injury sustained in Wednesday’s 2-1 Hillsborough defeat to Ipswich Town last weekend, said: “This is a massive game against our rivals so it’s one of the best games to go and show what we actually can do. It would be a massive boost to get a good result there, it would push us up in the group as well so it would be a really good result if we could get it.
“It’s one that I’m looking forward to and can’t wait for it.
“This is one of the biggest arenas in world football, against one of your biggest rivals as well.
“Growing up as a kid first and foremost you want to play for your country - that’s one of your aims - but to play against England? It doesn’t come much bigger.”
England are top of their qualifying group after two wins and a draw, but Bannan does not consider the match to be win-or-bust.
The former Aston Villa and Crystal Palace player said: “Definitely not. Don’t get me wrong it’s a massive game but I think this group’s already thrown up some surprise results.
“It’s going to be a group that goes down to the wire. We’ve got four games next year that are all at Hampden which will be a big bonus for us.”
Despite England’s poor performance at Euro 2016 and their recent managerial controversy where Sam Allardyce has been replaced in the interim by Gareth Southgate, Bannan believes the hosts are still a force to be reckoned with.
He said: “They’re a great football team, there’s no getting away from that.
“I don’t think they’ve lost a game in qualification for a while now so they are a top, top team so we’ll respect them but we’ll also be confident of going there and getting a result so it’s about finding that in-between, where you respect them but don’t respect them too much where you sit back in awe.”
Bannan voiced his approval of Celtic captain Scott Brown’s decision to return from retirement and insists his fellow midfielder is the exact type of player needed for such a high-profile game.
He said: “He’s a massive player; he’s been brilliant for this country.
“He’s been brilliant for Celtic in the Champions League in big games, so he’s a big game player and he’ll be a massive boost for this squad.
“You need experience going into games like this and he’s got a lot of it so it’ll be a major boost for the squad and a great lift for us.”
*Read tomorrow’s Star for a full in depth interview with Barry Bannan.