Sheffield Wednesday: Scotland’s Barry Bannan out to beat England and forget toughest moment in his football career

Scotland's Barry Bannan
Scotland's Barry Bannan

A clash with the Auld Enemy comes at an opportune moment for Barry Bannan.

The tenacious midfielder is delighted to be away on international duty with Scotland as the Wednesday ace looks to move on from the biggest disappointment of his footballing life.

Carlos Carvalhal picks up Barry Bannan

Carlos Carvalhal picks up Barry Bannan

It was just over three weeks ago the Owls suffered more play-off woe. Carlos Carvalhal’s charges lost 4-3 on penalties in the semi-finals to Huddersfield Town after the tie finished 1-1 on aggregate.

As for Bannan, who netted in the shoot-out, he admits losing to the Terriers was even tougher than being edged out by Hull City in the Play-Off Final at Wembley in 2016.

Speaking exclusively to The Star, Bannan said: “It is probably the hardest thing I’ve had to deal with in my football career.”

The 27-year-old has had no choice but to put that setback behind him and look to the future. He has trained with his Scotland teammates all week and could be involved in tomorrow’s crucial World Cup qualifier with England at Hampden Park, kick-off 5pm.

Barry Bannan

Barry Bannan

“The Huddersfield game was a low point but I’ve had to shake that off,” he said. “I had a couple of weeks to think about it but I’m happy to be back on the football pitch with Scotland preparing for another massive game.

“Being away with Scotland has kind of helped me forget about the play-offs and take my mind off it a little bit, which is a good thing in a way.

“I’m actually lucky to be back out playing again and doing what I love.”

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Barry Bannan

Barry Bannan

Bannan is no stranger to facing England. He was introduced as a second half substitute when the Scots slipped to a 3-1 home friendly defeat in November 2014. It was the same night ex-Owls striker Stevie May made his Scotland debut.

The stakes are high ahead of the latest encounter as the Scots desperately need three points to bolster their prospects of reaching a first major finals since the World Cup in France 19 years ago.

Bannan said: “You grow up wanting to play in games like this. It is like a derby game.

“England are the arch enemy in football so it is going to be a massive game and it is one I’m looking forward to.”

Scotland's Barry Bannan

Scotland's Barry Bannan

The popular midfield playmaker hopes he has done enough to convince Scotland boss Gordon Strachan he is worthy of a starting spot.

“When you go away with your country, you want to fight to try and start all the games,” said Bannan. “Obviously the final decision is made by the manager and the team performed very well in the last game against Slovenia at Hampden so it is going to be tough.

“But I will never give up and will fight to the end to force my way into the team. We will just see what happens.”

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At the midway point of the qualifiers, Scotland lie fourth in Group F, six points adrift of table-topping England. Their record reads two wins, a draw and two defeats.

But the Scots kept their faint hopes of progressing alive after claiming a hard-fought home win over Slovenia in their last outing.

Barry Bannan

Barry Bannan

Bannan said: “We have a good squad here. We are all together in what we do.

“Confidence is sky high after we sneaked a late win against Slovenia and we are looking forward to the England game.

“It is in our own backyard and our fans will be like a 12th man. We need to get a positive result to keep the group alive.”

When the two nations last collided, England triumphed 3-0 after headed goals either side of half-time by Daniel Sturridge, Adam Lallana and Gary Cahill.

“I think we performed very well that night at Wembley,” insisted Bannan. “The scoreline wasn’t a true reflection of the game.

“We had a few big chances and on another day if we had taken them it could have been a different story.

“England just showed their killer instinct. They probably had three chances and scored three goals.

“It is all about concentration and showing a killer instinct against the top sides.

“We have to take the chances we create as we are not going to many chances against a good team like England.”

After taking on Scotland, England, who have left out all-time leading goalscorer Wayne Rooney, face France in a friendly three days later.

Bannan said: “England are a top team; they have a lot of young players in their squad who are playing at the top level of the Premier League.

“They are a young team and there is no getting away from it that they are a good, good side.

“But we are also a good team and we have to find that balance of showing them respect but not too much that you freeze on the day.

“We will try to concentrate on what we are good at and hopefully show what we are capable of.

“It is a derby game so anything can happen.

“It is hard to say who the favourites are but I would think most people will be thinking England will win it. They probably have all the pressure on them going into the game which is good for us.”

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Owls Barry Bannan with Burton's Kyle McFadzean

Owls Barry Bannan with Burton's Kyle McFadzean