'Joe is your typical England fan': Hibs' Paul Hanlon already relishing the wind-ups if Kevin Nisbet and Scotland can stun Auld Enemy
Despite including England among his potential Euro 2020 winners, Paul Hanlon believes Scotland are capable of pulling off a surprise win at Wembley to bolster their hopes of progressing beyond the group stage and give Hibs team-mate Kevin Nisbet more time to shine.
And he predicts there will be some good-natured banter when the Easter Road squad return for pre-season training regardless how the head-to-head pans out.
The Hibs defender, who picked up his first Scotland cap last season, was delighted to see Nisbet get his opportunity from the bench against Czech Republic in the Scots’ opening match, at Hampden, on Monday.
The 24 year-old striker became the first Hibs player in 47 years to represent the country at a major finals and Hanlon insists that the chance was well-earned, adding that his value to Steve Clarke could become even more evident in the remaining group games and, if fortunes turn, on into the knockout phase.
“Although the result against the Czech Republic was disappointing, it was great for Kevin to get on,” said Hanlon. “That was fully deserved with the form he has been in. He got into the squad and impressed the manager and then he got his first goal, against Holland in the build up, which will have been a big boost just before the tournament.
“I think the manager will see him as a useful option as the tournament progresses because he is so prolific. If he gets chances, he will put them away. He has shown that at every level and now, even at international level, people are beginning to recognise that.
“He’s shown that on top of his ability, he also has the confidence to play at that level.”
As well as the homegrown players in Hibs’ squad, the likelihood is that when it comes to the Auld Enemy clash, even the international brigade will be swayed by loyalty to team-mate Nisbet.
But, understandably, the English contingent in the dressing room will be hoping Gareth Southgate’s men can book their place in the knockout stages and secure them bragging rights ahead of the return to training a week on Monday.
“The WhatsApp group has been quite quiet while we have all been away doing our own thing over the summer but I think that might change the closer that game gets,” said Hanlon, who named France as his early-tournament favourites. But he knows Matt Macey, Joe Newell and Drey Wright will believe England can emerge victorious.
“The others are a bit quieter but Joe is your typical England fan, he will have his strip on and will be ready to celebrate if they do get one over on us. So, it would be really nice to go back into pre-season to see what he has got to say if Scotland win.
“It will be difficult but it is definitely not unthinkable that we can get a memorable result. We have some very good players as well; players who are playing at a really high level, many of them in England. We have Champions League winners and players who have been really successful. Everyone will probably need to play well for us to beat England but there is no doubt in my mind, there is every chance we could do it.”