Scottish youngsters set for stiff Croatian test

06 June 2013 12:46

Scotland assistant manager Mark McGhee insists Friday's match away to Croatia is far from meaningless for Gordon Strachan's young side.

Croatia sit top of World Cup qualifying Group A with Belgium, while Scotland are bottom without a win so far in their six matches.

Scotland, who have collected just two points in the campaign, can no longer qualify for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

However, McGhee feels the match represents a chance for the inexperienced players in the squad to cement their place in Strachan's plans as he looks to build for the future.

"Some players have a chance to prove to the manager that in future squads they should be part of it," McGhee said of Friday's game in the Stadion Maksimir, Zagreb.

"There's a lot to play for. So, if nothing else, these guys have a lot to lose.

"They have an opportunity to prove they should be here and stamp that for the future.

"I think we'll try and make sure that they're not naive and they know fully what is ahead and the difficulty of the match that the opposition will give us, but I don't think we would swap experience for inexperience.

"We would much rather be here with our most experienced team in our most important World Cup game. But we have to accentuate the positives which are that young players do bring that enthusiasm and energy.

"We'll pick a team and a system that will give the Croats as much difficulty as we can. I think if England or Brazil went to Croatia in a World Cup game away from home in Zagreb and got a draw, they would consider it a positive result, so we have to think that way.

"I think their position makes them formidable, but I wouldn't say we have nothing to lose."

Scotland have been hit by seven withdrawals from the original squad with Brighton defender Gordon Greer the latest to be ruled out.

He joins Danny Fox, Lee Wallace, Gary Caldwell, Scott Brown, James Forrest and Liam Bridcutt on the sidelines while Darren Fletcher, Steven Fletcher, Charlie Mulgrew and Kenny Miller were ruled out through injury before Strachan made his selections.

Croatia are without suspended playmaker Luka Modric and defender Vedran Corluka.

Source: AFP