Football: Boyd handed the leading role

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TOM BOYD will close in on a Kenny Dalglish record when he captains Scotland in the Euro 2000 qualifier against the Faroe Islands today. The 33-year-old Celtic captain will make a remarkable 37th consecutive international appearance as he leads Scotland for the first time in a competitive game. He takes the armband from the Rangers defender Colin Hendry, who is out with a groin injury.

Boyd, who will win his 63rd cap at Toftir, was praised by the Scotland manager Craig Brown for his remarkable consistency at not missing an international game in almost four years: "Tom has been outstanding both with his club and his country. People still marvel at his pace.

"He has been a very steady performer over the years. He is never showy but on the other hand he never lets you down. I can't remember the last time I saw him have a bad game. He has been very consistent."

Boyd started his long sequence of matches back in August 1995, when Greece were defeated 1-0 at Hampden Park in a Euro 96 qualifier. Scotland progressed to the finals in England and he then provided the backbone to the side that qualified for France 98. Now he is only seven games away from overhauling Dalglish's record of 43 successive matches for the national side.

Boyd, who made his debut against Romania in 1990, confessed he was amazed that he had managed to string so many games together.

"I really had no idea it was that many matches," he said. "I'm quite astonished, to be honest. When you get to my age all you want to do is play in as many games as you can.

"Fortunately I have been lucky over the years with injuries and suspensions. I've not had that many. Hopefully I have repaid the faith the manager has shown in me."

Boyd has captained Scotland once before, when they lost 2-1 to France in a friendly two years ago, but he admits that today will be special.

"This is a game I will no doubt reflect on in later life," he said. "This is a proud moment for me, especially as it is a European Championship qualifier.

"Hopefully we can get a victory, although we know the conditions will be difficult tomorrow. We know the pitch is poor and it is bound to be very windy. However we should be able to cope. It is important for us to get the ball down and try and knock it around. That's our best hope for a victory."

Brown also has a milestone in sight as he celebrates his 50th match in charge, no doubt reflecting on what a difference a year can make. Twelve months ago Brazil provided the opposition in the World Cup finals in front of an 80,000 capacity crowd at the new Stade de France. Now Brown's team have to brave the elements against the Faroes with a crowd of around 5,000 expected for the game. Leicester City's Matt Elliott is expected to replace Hendry at the back, while Colin Calderwood of Aston Villa could also be recalled to the side.

"What I would like to see in my 50th game in charge is for Scotland to continue a winning sequence of results," Brown said. "We defeated Germany in April and would like to meet the Czech Republic next week with another victory secured.

"I know, and the players know, the pitch is far from ideal and the wind will blow. The Faroes are more used to those conditions than us but our boys are playing at a higher level. That's the key. We defeated them 2- 1 the last time and conceded a soft penalty. We have to do better tomorrow and try and boost our goal difference."

SCOTLAND (probable): Sullivan (Wimbledon); Weir (Everton), Elliott (Leicester), Boyd (Celtic), Davidson (Blackburn), Durrant (Kilmarnock), Calderwood (Aston Villa), Lambert (Celtic), Johnston (Sunderland), Gallacher (Blackburn), Dodds (Dundee Utd).


P W D L F A *%

Andy Beattie (1st term; Feb-Jun 1954) 6 2 1 3 6 14 42

Matt Busby (Sep-Dec 1958) 2 1 1 0 5 2 75

Andy Beattie (2nd term; Mar 59-Oct 60) 12 3 3 6 19 23 33

Ian McColl (Nov 60-May 65) 28 17 3 8 77 52 65

Jock Stein (1st term; May-Dec 1965) 7 3 1 3 11 11 50

John Prentice (Mar-Sep 1966) 4 0 1 3 4 9 13

Malcolm McDonald (Oct-Nov 1966) 2 1 1 0 3 2 75

Bobby Brown (Feb 67-Jul 71) 28 9 8 11 37 35 46

Tommy Docherty (Sep 71-Dec 72) 12 7 2 3 17 8 66

Willie Ormond (Jan 73-May 77) 38 18 8 12 55 38 58

Ally McLeod (May 77-Sep 78) 17 7 5 5 26 21 56

Jock Stein (2nd term; Oct 78-Sep 86) 61 26 12 23 80 70 52

Alex Ferguson (Oct 85-Jun 86) 10 3 4 3 8 5 50

Andy Roxburgh (Jul 86-Sep 93) 61 23 19 19 67 60 53

Craig Brown (Nov 93-date) 49 23 11 15 60 41 58

*Success rate