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Wednesday, October 13, 1999 Published at 15:06 GMT 16:06 UK

Sport: Football

Two sides seek underdog status

Hurst says current form means Shearer and Owen are underdogs

The Scots look set to revel in their traditional role as underdogs in the forthcoming Euro 2000 play-off matches with England.

But English World Cup winner Sir Geoff Hurst says the men from north of the border are the form team.

International football's oldest fixture was dramatically resurrected on Wednesday when the two teams were paired together in the play-off draw.

Former Scotland international Andy Gray insists that the two matches are an opportunity for his country to redress the balance, while current star John Collins says he will be happy to be an underdog.

The two games - at Hampden Park on 13 or 14 November and Wembley on the 17th - are sure to generate plenty of comments from fans, players and former stars.

[ image: Gray: A shame one will go out - but hopes it is England]
Gray: A shame one will go out - but hopes it is England
"Unbelievable," was the immediate response of former Scotland international goalkeeper Alan Rough seconds after hearing the draw on BBC Radio 5 Live.

"It's great that we can bring that game back again, because I'm sure we all enjoyed it, spectators and players."

Television pundit Gray was at the last meeting at Wembley, which England won 2-0, but felt that the Scots did enough to earn a result from the game.

"I was a supporter in Euro 96 - dressed in tartan - and I was so disappointed at Wembley because we did well that day," Gray said.

"There is a chance now for Scotland to do themselves justice. It will be a lot closer than some would suggest."

Hurst: England can beat the form

World Cup final hat trick scorer Hurst says England should have no fears but insists that the form book will favour the Scots.

"We haven't performed in the championships so far, but we always capable of beating anybody on the day," he said.

"So it's a good draw. Particularly as we're away first, which any team in a two-legged situation would want."

[ image: Trevor Steven (right) during an England v Scotland match in 1988]
Trevor Steven (right) during an England v Scotland match in 1988
Former England winger Trevor Steven played in the last Hampden Park game between the two countries, which England won 2-0 in 1989.

The ex-Rangers star insists that the first leg in Glasgow will be the key to the tie.

"Hampden is a changed stadium now. I played in the last England game there and it was important that we won just for a bit of peace on a day-to-day basis because there were few of us playing in Scotland ," Steven said.

"But you can't look past the first game - that is the vital match. England are the stronger team on paper.

"The passion of the Scots will be immense on the day but England have the better individual quality."

[ image: Jan Molby: Dane predicts blood and thunder]
Jan Molby: Dane predicts blood and thunder
Of the current set of players, Scotland and Everton midfielder Collins believes he has a good chance of playing in next summer's tournament.

"I think that will probably suit us, if we're the underdogs, everybody expecting us to get beat, certainly south of the border," he said.

"But it will be a different story north of the border."

Meanwhile from a neutral standpoint, former Liverpool and Denmark midfielder Jan Molby backs England.

"It's a great tie isn't it? It's what the players are used to week in, week out in the Premiership.

"They're going to come come up against the same type of players. It'll be a blood and thunder game," he predicted.

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