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International football: Scotland will face Northern Ireland in a friendly at Hampden Park

Scotland will face Northern Ireland in a friendly at Hampden Park, the Scottish Football Association has announced.

The game, which takes place on March 25, will be used as a warm-up for Scotland’s European Qualifier against Gibraltar.

Gordon Strachan’s side have had a good start to their qualifying campaign. They currently sit third, three points behind leaders Poland but level on points with second-placed Germany.

Michael O’Neill’s Northern Ireland team have also made an impressive start in their quest to qualify for the Euro 2016 finals in France, and they currently lie second in their group behind Romania.

Both teams will look to continue their momentum into next year although Scotland will start as favourites following their 3-0 victory the last time the sides met in 2011.

Strachan said: “We have enjoyed a good 2014 and now we will work together – the coaches, players and supporters – to make it an even better 2015.

“Playing Northern Ireland, a national side full of confidence after their start to European Qualifying, will be a good challenge for our team.

“There will obviously be a British derby feel to the game, which brings an added competitive edge, and that is exactly what we are looking for before we resume our qualifying campaign against Gibraltar.

“We have thoroughly enjoyed our travels to Ibrox and Celtic Park – two top-class football stadia – but we are also looking forward to getting back to our home ground of Hampden Park and we look forward to having that excellent support behind us again for the second half of our campaign.”

O’Neill wants to use the friendly to prepare his squad for the qualifier against Finland and to see a lot of fans making the trip to Glasgow.

“This is an excellent match for us prior to the Finland qualifier,” he said. “It will have been just over four months since we were all together in Bucharest, so a testing game against local opponents will give us good preparation for the qualifier later in the week.

“In addition, Glasgow is so close to Northern Ireland, so we would hope to see a good travelling support, which always adds noise and colour to our away games and is appreciated by the players.”


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