Ex-Rangers skipper Barry Ferguson insists Celtic duo are ‘key’ if Scotland are to beat England

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BARRY Ferguson insists Scotland’s hopes of pulling off a shock at Wembley rest with the selection of two Celtic players.

The former Scotland skipper believes a midfield pairing of Darren Fletcher and returning Hoops captain Scott Brown would be key against England in Friday’s mouthwatering World Cup qualifier.

And Ferguson, capped 45 times by his country, reckons manager Gordon Strachan simply has to start with Leigh Griffiths in attack if the Scots are to have any chance against the Auld Enemy.

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Strachan has sparked controversy by drafting Brown back in, with no guarantees the 31-year-old – who announced his retirement from international football in August – will play on beyond this week’s encounter.

However, Ferguson is adamant a partnership of Brown and Fletcher would help protect Scotland’s soft centre in defence.

He said: “We’ve got good players. We’ve got Darren Fletcher, who has played however many games in the Champions League with probably the biggest club in the world and he still plays week-in, week-out.

“He needs a bit of help in there and you’ve got the perfect answer with Scott Brown, who has been excellent this season.

“That will help the defence and I hope Fletcher and Brown play bang in front of our back four because that’s probably our weakest part of the team. I think that’s key.”

Strachan has caused huge ructions within the Tartan Army with his decision to overlook Griffiths in recent games, but Ferguson cannot see past the Celtic marksman if Scotland are to make the most of the scraps they are likely to have to feed off at Wembley.

The Clyde manager added: “You’ve got to play him. He’s a goal machine.

“I know he’s not played a lot with Celtic. He’s had his injuries and then couldn’t get back in because [Moussa] Dembele’s been on an unbelievable run.

CHANCES

“But, for me, he’s the best Scotland striker in the squad. Why would you not play Leigh Griffiths?

“England are going to have most of the possession, a good 65 or 70 per cent, and we might only get one or two chances.

“I know who I would want the chances to drop to – Leigh Griffiths.”

Meanwhile, Ferguson, who played in both legs of the Euro 2000 play-off in 1999 when Scotland lost 2-0 at Hampden but then won 1-0 at Wembley, insists they can again pull off the unexpected and earn a positive result in London.

He told BBC Scotland: “I know we’re not playing well, I know England have got better players, but I’ve watched them and they don’t play well as a team.

“You’re playing your old enemy, you’re going into a derby game, form goes out the window and I’m hopeful that England have an off night.

“And you never know what could happen.

“I’m hoping we can go down and beat them. I’ll be positive and I’m hopeful we can get something.”

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