The first round of European qualifiers is upon us this weekend with some testing trips and high profile home encounters for the home nations to contend with.
As always, our football expert is here to run his eye over the best bets for this week’s intriguing fixtures.
Kazakhstan v Scotland – Thursday 21st – 3pm
Scotland manager Alex McLeish has his work cut out for him in terms of player availability ahead of their opening Euro 2020 qualifier in Kazakhstan.
Injures throughout the squad were compounded by news that Liverpool’s Andy Robertson is now a doubt to travel with the team thanks to an abscess in his mouth.
Despite this, Scotland should have sufficient fire-power at the other end to get the job done. The likes of Cardiff’s Callum Paterson, Celtic’s in-form Oliver Burke and James Forrest, and flying Ryan Fraser of Bournemouth, you can bet on McLeish’s men to score over 3.5 goals at 4/1.
Northern Ireland vs Estonia – Thursday 21st – 7.45pm
Conor Washington (Sheffield United) return to the Northern Ireland squad when they host Estonia at Windsor Park on Thursday.
Manager Michael O’Neill’s fond memories from France 2016 will no doubt play a big part in his decision-making as he looks to start as they mean to go on in front of their home fans. And we fancy Kyle Lafferty to be in amongst the goals for him — at 5/2 the veteran striker is worth a shout for first goal scorer on the night.
England vs Czech Republic – Friday 22nd – 7.45pm
True to form, Gareth Southgate has kept his Three Lions fresh with excitement and youthful exuberance ahead of their European qualifying campaign kick-off.
Eclipsing the wave of joy his side rode in Russia will be a tall order – but with the likes of Raheem Sterling, Marcus Rashford and Harry Kane in his arsenal, expectations will rightly be set to high. Inject a new wave of in-vogue starlets, Declan Rice, Jadon Sancho and Callum Hudson-Odoi, then all of a sudden you find yourself wistfully humming along to that glorious chant all over again. England are a very tempting 11/1 to win 4-0 on Friday…
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