Sunday 18 February 2018

Scotland facing striker crisis

Roddy Forsyth, in La Manga

Attack is hardly likely to be Scotland's default mode when they face Spain in pursuit of a Euro 2012 play-off place in Alicante tomorrow night, but they would undoubtedly like to have the option.

However, if the prospect of trying to beat the world champions -- who are aiming for a perfect record in Group I -- was not daunting enough, Scotland manager Craig Levein is almost out of strikers.

Officially, Kenny Miller is still in the reckoning to resume his established role as lone forward in Levein's 4-1-4-1 system, but the Cardiff City man has only a tiny chance of overcoming the groin tear that ruled him out of the 1-0 win in Liechtenstein on Saturday night.

On that occasion, Craig Mackail-Smith proved an adequate replacement, scoring the only goal of the game on his first international start to edge the Scots a point ahead of the Czech Republic, who meet Lithuania in Kaunas tomorrow night, having already lost to the same opponents in Prague last year.

Unfortunately for Levein, the Brighton forward also reported an ailment.

Levein, who is also sweating over the fitness of midfielder Barry Bannan, confessed that he had reviewed his initial response to his players' performance against Liechtenstein, feeling that he had been over-critical.

"The main emotion I was feeling this morning was one of relief," he said. "I was quite relaxed throughout the last 10 minutes but there was a period before then -- about 70 to 80 minutes in -- when I was a little concerned because we didn't control the ball as well we had been doing.

"But we got through that and saw it out comfortably in the end. The funny thing is, maybe I feel as if I was a little bit harsh on the boys last night because they didn't take as many chances as I would have liked."

Spain defender Raul Albiol has been ruled out after fracturing his left cheekbone in training yesterday. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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