Berra ready to accept Scotland axe

29 March 2009 01:39
Wolves stopper Berra, 24, was drafted in for his fourth cap by George Burley in the 3-0 World Cup qualifying defeat in Holland as a straight replacement for regular centre-back McManus, who had failed to shake off an ankle injury.

With Burley's hard-working but limited side behind to first-half headers from Real Madrid striker Klaas Jan Huntelaar and Arsenal star Robin van Persie, Berra made his only real mistake of the game when he felled Huntelaar inside the Scotland penalty area, giving Dirk Kuyt the chance to make a comfortable Amsterdam victory for the Group Nine leaders even more emphatic.

Scotland, with only four points from four games and having scored only two goals, need to beat Iceland to have a realistic chance of reaching South Africa via the play-offs.

However, Berra believes he will be watching the game from the Hampden dug-out if the Celtic skipper is fit enough to resume his partnership with Parkhead team mate Gary Caldwell.

"I did my best but I know that Stephen is number one pick at the moment and I fully expect him to come back in to the side on Wednesday," the former Hearts player said.

"Stephen and Gary Caldwell play together at club level as well so I just have to take it on the chin.

"But it was a great experience playing against one of the top teams in the world and I thought I did well.

"At the penalty, I thought Huntelaar was going to shoot.

"I didn't slide to get the ball, I tried to block the shot and I think he leaned in to me. I think he was quite clever in doing that.

"But, overall, I was happy with my performance."

Like the majority of the Scottish squad, Berra tried to take some positives from what was a routine win for the Dutch.

However, the pressure will slowly mount on manager Burley ahead of Wednesday's crunch game at the national stadium.

The former Hearts and Ipswich boss finds himself with just one win in eight games since he took over the Hampden hot seat.

Berra is well aware Scotland have to take three points from Iceland, who they have already beaten in the campaign, if they are to have any chance of clinching second spot.

"We always knew the big game was going to be against Iceland on Wednesday and we will start preparing for it," he said.

"We are on our own turf where we expect to win every game.

"Iceland are competing against us for the play-off spot and I don't see why we won't win against them.

"Bigger and better teams have gone to Amsterdam and got beat but we have to keep our heads up.

"No disrespect to Iceland but they won't have the same quality as Holland."

Scotland 1/2, Draw 13/5, Iceland 11/2  

Source: Team_Talk