Bookies seem unsure how the Three Lions will respond

England manager Roy Hodgson
England manager Roy Hodgson

Whether it was down to the timing of the game, which came right at the start of the domestic football season or the fact that the team performed so badly at the World Cup over the summer that supporters are a touch disillusioned, England’s friendly contest against Norway failed to capture the public’s imagination, attracting a meagre crowd to Wembley.

Also playing a part of course could’ve been the fact that a far more important assignment lies in wait for Roy Hodgson’s team, who travel to Switzerland on Monday for the first of their Euro 2016 qualifiers.

Bet365 feel it’s unlikely, at 20/1, that England will fail to reach the finals in France and indeed they’re just 2/5 (Stan James) to top Group E, however their opening encounter in Basel is a fixture that bookies are struggling to decipher, perhaps because they’re unsure how England will respond in a competitive encounter, to their disappointing showing in Brazil.

Consequently, there’s little between the sides in the markets, with some bookies unable to separate them, William Hill rating the Swiss as slight underdogs at 7/4 and BetVictor quoting a triumph for the Three Lions at an identical price.

It’s not surprising then, that the stalemate has been all the rage in the early exchanges, bet365’s 11/5 the top price for the duo to share the spoils at St Jakob-Park, where it’s just 6/1 (BetVictor) to be a cagey goalless encounter.

Simply avoiding defeat, an outcome offer at 9/20, will be a decent enough result for Hodgson’s troops in what is undoubtedly their toughest clash on paper but for confident travelling fans, Skybet’s 3/1 about them nicking it by one might catch the eye.

Alternatively, it’s double the odds at 6/1 (Paddy Power) for the Three Lions to return with a valuable 1-0 victory under their belts, England are 9/10 in Stan James’s ‘Draw No Bet’ market and BetVictor make them 5/1 to secure the points following an even first half.

Punters fond of goal-related wagers can tackle betway’s 23/20 about Hodgon’s charges breaking the deadlock, Liverpool’s Daniel Sturridge is Ladbrokes’s 5/1 favourite to fire that opener but the clash still looks a banker at 8/15 (Stan James) to generate fewer than three goals.

Scotland couldn’t have asked for tougher opening to their bid to qualify for Euro 2016 given that they travel to recently crowned world champions Germany.

Inevitably, Gordon Strachan’s troops will kick off as huge outsiders, BetVictor chalking them up at a massive 14/1 to register a sensational victory over Joachim Low’s impressive side, who are a slender 1/8 (Stan James) to pick up where they left off in Brazil.

At 15/2 via betway, even collecting a point is considered a big ask for the Scots while Ladbrokes make them as high as 9/2 to do anything but lose at Dortmund’s Signal Iduna Park but they’ve looked a far more resilient outfit since Strachan took charge and this one might be closer than the bookies think.

A flutter on them at 6/4 in Winner’s handicaps, when aided by a two-goal start is worth pondering then and it’s an alluring 13/10 (betway) for both teams to get on the scoresheet. Joining Scotland in Group D meanwhile, are the Irish, bet365’s 5/4 jollies to emerge triumphant in Georgia on Sunday.

On Tuesday, it should be a straightforward evening for Wales in Andorra and that’s reflected in Stan James’s 1/9 for Chris Coleman’s men to make a winning start in Group B.

Skybet go 10/11 about the Welsh covering a two-goal start in the handicaps and it’s 5/1 courtesy of BetVictor for them to notch three times without reply against the team ranked 199th in the world.

Finally, in Group F, Northern Ireland are 7/1 shots at bet365 to overcome hosts Hungary (1/2, William Hill) and it’s 3/1 with Stan James to prove inconclusive in Budapest.

After their dramatic Super League victory at Leeds last Friday, St Helens have one hand on the League Leader’s Shield and they’ll secure the regular season title if they see off Warrington at Langtree Park tonight (Thursday).

Defeat for Saints would leave the door slightly ajar for Castleford but at 8/11 with Skybet the hosts are home banker material and they tempt at 10/11 in William Hill’s handicaps, when kicking-off a couple of points adrift of the Wolves.

Bet of the week: England and Switzerland to draw – 11/5 (bet365).

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