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No Easy Game Against The Czechs
Published : 01 Sep 2011 10:42:08
No matter what problems the opposition side have, the Czech Republic will be tough opponents on Saturday The Czech Republic's coach has a dilemma ahead of the game with Scotland on Saturday. Talismanic goalkeeper Petr Cech is out with a knee injury leaving coach Michal Bilek to choose between two uncapped keepers - Ales Hruska and Jan Lastuvka - and Jaroslav Drobny, who has played only four times. However, Scotland's assistant manager Peter Houston has warned against reading too much in to the problems ahead of the EURO2012 qualifier. Bilek's side will also be looking to bounce back from a 3-0 friendly defeat in Norway. Despite Scotland losing 1-0 in Prague earlier in the qualifying campaign, there is a growing sense of anticipation amongst the fans ahead of the game from which Craig Levein's men must take three points - and beat Lithuania next Tuesday night at Hampden as well - if they are to have a realistic chance of grabbing second spot and a play-off place. The Czech Republic are five points ahead of Scotland in second place although having played a game more. Houston said: "The Czechs had a poor result against Norway but please don't underestimate them because of that. In many ways it could make them more determined to do well and it might be the kick up the backside that they were maybe needing to get their minds focused again. They have had a blow with their goalkeeper missing, I will be honest enough to say that. He plays an awful lot of games for them and the second and third goalkeepers don't play a lot. He is a big influence in the team. But we will be very wary of the Czechs, they are a quality nation and we know that they have quality players. So we expect a very tough game. But I think we have quality players as well and we have a game plan and hopefully it is one from which we will get three points." Houston also denied there is now added responsibility on the national side following club sides failure to make an impression in European competitions. Dundee United, Celtic, Rangers and Hearts are already out of the Europa League but Houston insists the forthcoming double-header stands alone in the context of Scotland trying to qualify for next summer's finals in Poland and Ukraine. He said: "Yes we have been disappointed but this is something new, something different. We have always said, without looking at club football, that we are building towards the Czech Republic game and even at the Carling Nations Cup games we spoke about the double-header against Czech Republic and Lithuania as two of the most important games in recent history. We still think that and we are only thinking about Scotland as a national team and not the clubs' disappointing results in Europe. We look at one thing only and focusing on the Czech Republic game, forgetting what's happened in the last couple of months in club football. It is a full house already. The kick-off is three o'clock in the afternoon when, maybe, that is when football should be played. We need all of the country to get behind us and give the players a lift, even if something goes wrong early. In the past, when Scotland have had the crowd behind them, they have put in a performance and hopefully the crowd can help us get the three points on Saturday." Houston welcomed back captain Darren Fletcher who has missed all five international games this year with the effects of a virus. He said: "We haven't done an awful lot of training yet but he's looked great. He has looked fit and he did a bit extra at the end of training yesterday as did other players who didn't play at the weekend or went on as substitute. It depends if the manager picks him but Darren is an important member of the squad and he always has been. We have missed him but at the same time we have had players who have stepped up and did very well."