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Rough Guide

31 Aug 2011 10:04:40

Rough Guide

Alan Rough has seen it all and is pleased to see Scotland have two keepers (when fit) who will bring out the best in each other as they fight for the number one jersey. Scottish legend Alan Rough (53 caps) warned Craig Gordon that it will not be so easy to get hold of the gloves in the national side from Allan McGregor once he is back to full fitness. Gordon underwent surgery on his knee in April and is still on the recovery treadmill. This and previous knee and arm injuries has blighted his time at Sunderland. However, he is confident of reclaiming the number one jersey for both club and country. Rough is a big admirer of the former Hearts 'keeper but admits he cannot fault the efforts of McGregor, who has made the most of Gordon's absence and established himself as national manager Craig Levein's first choice for the number one position. Rough said: "I have to hold my hands up and say that I was always a Craig Gordon fan, I thought he was absolutely outstanding in a Scotland jersey. When you look back, he almost won games single-handedly. But Allan McGregor has taken it upon himself to take on that mantle with the saves he has made. I think Craig Gordon is a wonderful goalkeeper but, at this moment in time, Allan McGregor is ahead of him. He is in super form. He's not only doing everything that's asked of him, he is also making that save that wins you games. Although he lost a bad goal in the last game against Denmark, he had three or four fantastic saves that probably won us the game. When you play international football you don't get a lot to do but when you are asked to make that save you've got to be up for it. Allan McGregor has certainly been up for everything that has been asked of him with Rangers and Scotland." Rough sees the return of Gordon as a viable option for Levein as a benefit to Scotland as McGregor will have to maintain top form to keep his place. Rough went on: "Craig Gordon was saying in an interview a couple of weeks ago that he still believes in his mind that he's still the number one - and you do have to be positive. He will know deep down that, at this moment, Allan McGregor is the number one and he will have to come back and start playing first-team football, he will have to put pressure on Allan McGregor. There is no doubt that when you've got two goalkeepers who want that position, it can make you step up a bit. But, as it is just now, I don't think Allan McGregor has to do anything." Gordon will not be considered for the EURO2012 double header against the Czech Republic and Lithuania on 3 and 6 September, with McGregor set to be between the sticks for both Hampden games. Scotland and the Czechs are both hoping to finish runners-up to Group I leaders Spain and secure a play-off spot. And, although Rough believes Levein's men head into the pressure game in fine form, he knows defeat this weekend would be a major blow. He said: "We are in better shape than we have been for a while. We've got a very large squad and there is a lot of quality in there. All we need to do is just get the best XI on the park and hopefully on the night we can rise to the occasion. There will be a lot of pressure going into the game on Saturday and everybody will be hoping we can get a result. I don't think we can lose the game. If we draw, we are then relying on everyone else. If we win it, it's certainly in our own hands with the Lithuania game coming up. All the pressure would be on the Czechs and it just takes the pressure off Scotland if we do win this game and then beat Lithuania. Once you get a couple of wins under the belt, the whole nation gets behind you and the players are lifted. It's one of the biggest games we've had for a long time."


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