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Co-captain Chris Sutton cannot wait to savour an English win on Scottish soil in the Battle of the Brits

Chris Sutton, right, expects to claim bragging rights over Ally McCoist, left, at the Battle of the Brits
Chris Sutton, right, expects to claim bragging rights over Ally McCoist, left, at the Battle of the Brits

Old habits die hard for Chris Sutton and the proud Englishman expects nothing other than a win for his homeland on Scottish soil in the Battle of the Brits.

Sutton is one of two English co-captains named for the event at P&J Live on December 21 and 22 where the best of British tennis will go head to head.

Sir Andy Murray will be joined by his brother and tournament director Jamie Murray, Cameron Norrie and Jonny O’Mara in flying the flag for Scotland against the English team of Dan Evans, Joe Salisbury, Neal Skupski and Jack Draper.

Bragging rights are top of the agenda for Sutton, who will be joined by fellow English co-captain Clare Balding, with former Open champion Paul Lawrie and Ally McCoist co-captaining the hosts in Aberdeen.

McCoist joked the idea of Sutton gloating in an England win will be doubly unbearable. Former Celtic and Blackburn striker Sutton insists McCoist has not gone far enough with his assessment.

He said: “I think that’s probably not accurate enough. Try treble, quadruple.

“Let’s get it right, Ally and I think we know a lot about a lot of things, but we don’t know very much about tennis.

“I’d love to play him at tennis. If you look at his condition, he wouldn’t be able to move around the court a lot. I’d just keep serving and volleying.

“I used to follow Wimbledon very closely and my dad was a good tennis player and I had a game or two with him, but he sort of pushed me into badminton – the poor person’s tennis – so I’m desperate to get up to Aberdeen and I expect England to put one over on you boys.”

Sutton wants to continue winning run over McCoist

The Sutton-McCoist off-court teasing was in full flow with both giving their thoughts – separately – on the two-day event in Aberdeen.

Sutton makes no apology for wanting to win and he knows McCoist will be just as determined to send him homeward to think again.

Chris Sutton

He said: “It’s a showcase event and it’s great that it’s being put on to get people more interested in tennis.

“But once the players step onto the court, they’ll be fully focused.

“It’s like myself and Ally. We have a quiz every week – and I want to beat him badly every time.

“I beat him badly last year, in the last quiz of the year, just got my nose in front and beat him on the last day.

“All sports people are ultra-competitive. I think most of you guys are, as well.

“And the embarrassment of losing to an Englishman on home turf, it doesn’t get much worse than that.”

Given the verbal volleys which went back and forth, Sutton, who had the benefit of responding to McCoist’s barbs afterwards, is clearly excited about being part of the event.

When told McCoist had said Sutton had two England caps instead of one – his first and his last – the Englishman replied: “Ha, he’s right. But just imagine if I’d been Scottish, I’d be in the SFA Hall of Fame with about a hundred caps.

“No, look, myself and Ally are extremely competitive. I don’t know what impact we can have on our particular teams with motivational speeches, though.

“He was manager at Rangers when they were struggling, I was manager at Lincoln City.

“So it could be a battle of the tactical minds. I don’t think it’ll pan out like that.”

Half-fit Murray no match for England

Sutton was happy to play pantomime villain, but his confidence was clear for all to see on his media call and he was quite happy to stress why he expects an England win in Aberdeen.

He said: “Well, Andy Murray’s got a bad hip hasn’t he? It’s not a fully fit Andy Murray.

Sir Andy Murray, left, with brother Jamie Murray

“I’m looking forward to it, but it’s not the first time the English have been up to the north of Scotland and defeated the Scots. Do you remember Culloden – I remember it really well.

“You can chuck Bannockburn at us, but you had the advantage there because the marshes were in your favour. You won’t get the advantage in Aberdeen. Conditions will be the same for both.”

Sutton returns to Aberdeen 20 years after a trip he wishes he could forget

The Battle of the Brits will be Sutton’s first visit to P&J Live, but Aberdeen remains a vivid memory for him from his time at Celtic – and not all of the recollections are enjoyable.

He said: “There’s not an area of Scotland where I’ve not had a hard time.

“I played in the game when they beat us 2-0 (in December 2001) and they got on their hands and knees to go round the pitch, rubbed our noses in it.

Aberdeen players celebrate at the end after beating Celtic 2-0 in 2001

“But I always enjoyed going up there. A lovely city.

“I don’t remember if that was the snowball game, but I remember the celebrations.

“When we got back into dressing room, I remember thinking: ‘God, let’s not let that happen again.’

“So I’m coming up to Aberdeen to win this, to get my hands on another trophy, have a big speech ready – and rub Ally’s nose in it.”

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