BY ALAN TEMPLE – @CCP_Sport
SCOTLAND defender Christophe Berra has lavished praise on Harry Kane and concedes an utterly faultless display, allied with ample good fortune, will be required to shackle the England talisman.
Kane, 23, arrives at Hampden next Saturday on the back of another sensational campaign for club and country, notching 35 goals in 39 appearances in all competitions.
His haul for Mauricio Pochettino’s talented Tottenham side saw him join Alan Shearer, Ruud van Nistelrooy and Thierry Henry as the only men to ever score more than 20 goals in three successive English Premier League seasons.
So Berra is acutely aware that Gordon Strachan’s men face an onerous task as they seek to stop Kane from adding to his record of five goals in 17 caps for the Three Lions.
“How do you stop Kane? Good question,” smiled the Hearts captain. “These players are at the very top level for a reason.
“They’ve got instincts that are different to everyone else. You aren’t going to dominate a striker like that for the whole 90 minutes.
“You try to do it as long as possible and, if he does get a chance, you hope the keeper or your defenders are there to pull you out the s***!
“We’re going to need to be at 110 per cent and have a bit of lady luck on our side. Hopefully we get off to a good start, get on the front foot and make Hampden an intimidating place.
“After [Kane’s] first season when he scored lots of goals, people were questioning whether he could do it again. Well, he has done it three seasons in a row now so he’s a top player.
“He’s player in a great Tottenham side with a lot of good, young, English players who will no doubt be in England’s starting line-up. They all know each other’s game and will be a strong unit.
“It’s going to be a tough game. Their squad is littered with top-class players. We will no doubt go in as underdogs – as usual.”
While a realist, Berra is adamant Scotland can emerge victorious from the clash and breath life into their quest to reach Russia.
“Definitely, we can win,” said Berra. “It’s a one-off game, a cup final, it’s Scotland-England. It’s at Hampden and we’ve had big results there before. Why can’t we do it again?
“And if we win, it gives the table a whole different outlook – and changes the way the fans and the press are thinking.”
Meanwhile, Berra has dismissed the notion that the clash against the Auld Enemy means more to to Scotland than the visitors.
“Don’t tell me it doesn’t mean as much to England,” added Berra. “These players are playing at a high level for a reason. They go out to produce in every game and they play for the best teams in the league.
“They have their own personal pride. They aren’t there because they slacken off, they’re there because they’re good professionals. They’ll know what they’re up for and I’m sure the manager will have them well drilled.”