Iceland boss Erik Hamren insists his side will play for pride against England
Outgoing Iceland boss Erik Hamren insists his much-changed side will play for pride in their Nations League clash with England on Wednesday night.
The game at Wembley is akin to a dead rubber, with Iceland already relegated and England unable to qualify for the finals.
It will also be Hamren’s last game at the helm after the Swede failed to guide Iceland to Euro 2020.
They played Hungary in a play-off in Budapest last week and were leading until the final two minutes – the hosts then turning the game around to take their spot at next summer’s rearranged competition.
Even a victory over England – repeating the feat of Euro 2016 when they eliminated the Three Lions in the round of 16 stage – would not be enough to lift Iceland off the foot of Group A2.
With that in mind, a host of Hamren’s biggest names have returned to their clubs – with the likes of Everton’s Gylfi Sigurdsson and Burnley midfielder Johann Berg Gudmundsson among them.
But Hamren still wants to see a response from the players he has left at his disposal in his 24th – and last – game in charge.
“Okay, we know we are going down to the B group and so on but for me you are always playing for something,” he said.
“You are playing for pride in yourself, pride in your team and when you are playing for your national team you are playing for your nation and for the country so it is always important.
“We played three competitive games so we have more problems than England and Denmark who had a friendly first and could try some players.
“You have to remember that, we can’t kill the players by playing them in three 90-minute matches, some of them are also playing a lot at their clubs and you can see the amount of injuries there are now in players so of course we need to think about that.”
Iceland ran England close in the reverse Nations League meeting, losing 1-0 after Birkir Bjarnason missed an injury-time penalty to cancel out Raheem Sterling’s own last-gasp spot-kick.
Despite a forgettable campaign in the fledgling tournament this time around, Hamren has backed Gareth Southgate and his players to fare better at the European Championships.
“I believe in England,” he added. “They have been really good, okay the results in the Nations League are maybe not what they expected but there is a huge difference between the Nations League and Euros.
“It is a really special situation now, with Covid and everything, so don’t judge them for too much, don’t think too much about that – I have a strong belief that England will be good in the Euros.”