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Strachan braced for stern test

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07 Jun 2013 08:47:07

Strachan braced for stern test

Scotland manager Gordon Strachan believes his side are set to face one of the toughest challenges in international football when they take on Croatia tonight.

The Scots head into the World Cup qualifier in Zagreb bottom of the group, with just two points, and still seeking their first win of the campaign. In stark contrast, Croatia - fourth in the world rankings - are joint top with Belgium and battling to win the section.

Asked how tricky a task the Scots face, Strachan said: "If you asked every other country in the world bar two, they would probably think it's the hardest one you can get. It is hard. We are young, the squad is young, but it's good to get used to everything in international football - even this."

Scotland head into the match with a squad weakened by seven call-offs. And, with Darren Fletcher, Kenny Miller, Gary Caldwell and Scott Brown all absent, James Morrison will be given the captain's armband for the first time at international level.

Strachan said: "He's a good player and I think he sets a standard in training. He goes about approaching the game in a professional manner. He's a good professional, he's never had any problems. He does the right things, he understands the game, he asks questions.

"There were one or two candidates and we went for James. He never gets too low or too high and that's crucial when you're part of the coaching staff or the captain."

Morrison is determined to end an impressive season personally on a high by guiding Scotland to a positive result. The midfielder, who has taken on the role of skipper at club level with West Brom, is desperate to enjoy the occasion as captain.

Morrison said: "I'm delighted. I was a bit shocked but also proud. I'll take this through the rest of my career and I just can't wait to get started now. I'll just do what I always do and try to lead by example. I'll try to encourage the players and try to get a performance.

"I've had the armband in the FA Cup against Queen's Park Rangers and that was a very proud moment and something I enjoyed so I'm ready for the task again.

"All of this experience helps you going into a game. This might only be one time, I don't know, but I'm going to enjoy it. I've had a good season personally and I want to finish on a high - there is no reason why we can't."


PA

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