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Watching England is purgatory

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England v Scotland: Harry Kane wary of losing to rivals

Watching England games is “purgatory” for supporters, says former Three Lions captain Terry Butcher.

England, who host Scotland at Wembley on Friday, drew 0-0 in their World Cup qualifier in Slovenia last month.

The result followed laboured wins over Malta and Slovakia as England look to bounce back from their embarrassing Euro 2016 exit against Iceland.

“We’re reaching new lows all the time,” said Butcher. “They play like they’ve got their headphones on.”

England are top of their qualifying group after two wins and a draw from their opening three matches, with fourth-placed Scotland three points behind their old rivals.

On Tuesday, Butcher spoke to the England players at St George’s Park after presenting Gary Cahill with a memento to mark the Chelsea centre-back’s 50th cap.

The former Ipswich player, speaking to the BBC afterwards, described the meeting as “a real honour” and backed interim boss Gareth Southgate to be given the manager’s job full-time.

However, speaking to the Press Association later on Tuesday, former Rangers captain Butcher said there was “no better time” for the visitors to play England.

“Every game, every week you think ‘what’s going to happen with England?'” said the 57-year-old former central defender.

“Just when you think it should have bottomed out, it doesn’t; it seems to get worse. So Scotland have got nothing to lose in a way.

“With England you’ve got to win but you’ve also got to play well.

“Drawing 0-0 in Slovenia is not acceptable and they scraped a 1-0 win against Slovakia even though they were down to 10 men.

“It’s purgatory watching England, it really is. It is groundhog day.”

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Butcher’s blood-soaked bandage is one of English football’s most iconic images

Butcher, who famously played with a head wound as England drew in Sweden to clinch their place at the 1990 World Cup, believes the current players fail to show the same passion and commitment as previous generations.

“The jersey’s like a straitjacket for the players. They’re playing with their hands tied behind their back,” said Butcher, who won 77 caps between 1980 and 1990.

“They have got to take the responsibility – they have got to really want it. They are not vocal. They’re not demonstrative.

“They play like they’ve got their headphones on. You think ‘what music are they listening to?’ They’re listening to the wrong track.

“They’re not on the same beat.”

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‘Southgate fits the bill’

Under-21 boss Southgate will take charge for his third game on Friday, after replacing Sam Allardyce – who left by mutual consent after one game and 67 days in charge – on an initial four-match basis. England play Spain in a friendly on Tuesday, also at Wembley.

“He fits the bill very well,” Butcher told BBC Sport. “He’s been there as a player, which is not necessarily that important, but he has been involved with managing teams at international level, getting them ready for qualifiers and tournament games.

“He has dealt with a lot of the younger players in the England squad too. There’s a good buzz around the place.”

Beating Scotland will ensure England stay on course to reach the 2018 World Cup finals in Russia, but Butcher believes the current squad is still “gripped by fear in tournament football”.

Under Roy Hodgson, they were eliminated at the group stage of the 2014 World Cup before losing in the last 16 to Iceland at Euro 2016.

“It is a transitional period for them. They are still bearing the scars of the Iceland game and the scars of the last World Cup.

“There are a lot of hurdles to overcome mentally.

“Hopefully Gareth will get the job and can settle things down. Beating Scotland could be a stepping stone to go forward and back into a position of strength.”

Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/football/37916273