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Weekend Premier League predictions

Premier League
By ESPN Staff

England rule out Scotland game before 2011

The oldest international fixture seems certain to remain on the backburner until 2011, it emerged on Sunday.

The Scottish Football Association want to discuss with the FA the possibility of arranging a game between England and Scotland, maybe as early as November this year.

However, their wish seems highly unlikely to be granted.

Talks took place 12 months ago about reviving the oldest international fixture as both countries came to terms with missing Euro 2008.

Fabio Capello was keen on the idea and an end-of-season clash was tentatively proposed but in the end the plans were scrapped as Scotland counterpart George Burley was reluctant to play the game without his Old Firm contingent, who were committed to tour matches elsewhere.

Scotland are still hopeful of resurrecting the idea but the FA have already filled their international dates for 2009, scheduling friendlies with Slovakia, Holland and Slovenia, with the exception of November, which is reserved for play-off matches.

Yet, even if Capello's side qualify for South Africa automatically, a meeting with Scotland at that time of year has already been ruled out, as only one of the two potential dates is likely to be used and the Italian already has opponents in mind.

Then, should England qualify for South Africa, Capello is likely to prefer friendly fixtures against opponents similar to the teams England would have to meet in their World Cup campaign.

Capello and his backroom team have not looked so far ahead as yet, preferring instead to focus on the upcoming qualifier with the Ukraine on April 1.

However, unless England once again miss out on a major tournament it would not appear Scotland will be on the agenda.

It is thought the early part of the 2010-11 campaign has also been ruled out.

England last played Scotland in 1999 when two Paul Scholes goals at Hampden Park ultimately proved decisive in a tense qualifier for Euro 2000. Don Hutchinson scored the only goal of the return leg at Wembley.

''We are aware of the significance of an England-Scotland fixture and the high level of interest it would generate,'' said an FA spokesman.

''We have tried to arrange one in the last 12 months but unfortunately it was unable to take place.

''It is going to be difficult for us to find an opportunity to play Scotland at any point in the next 18 months.''

However, SFA spokesman Rob Shorthouse told the Scottish News of the World: ''There are certain dates we can play the game.

''We really want to have the game and there's a desire on both sides to have it, but we have to fit it into a pretty crowded match schedule.

''We're meeting with the FA next week at the IFAB meeting and it will be mentioned.

''Whether or not it will get sorted then is different as our priority is the World Cup campaign but there's a commitment on both sides to sit and sort it out.''


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