Football: Brown finally calls time on McCoist

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ALLY McCOIST finally ran out of luck yesterday as Craig Brown refused to become a hostage to fortune by including him among the men who will almost certainly carry Scotland's hopes in the World Cup Finals.

The Rangers striker, affectionately known by his fellow professionals as Golden Bollocks, for his knack of being in the right place at the right time and living a career which seemed to be written by a scriptwriter, can now make alternative plans this summer.

McCoist was omitted from the 22-man squad which leaves next Wednesday for a 10-day trip to the United States to begin their preparations for France 98, which, barring injuries, will be the names announced by Brown on 2 June for the finals.

Despite a late flurry of goals in the final months of the season, the former European Golden Boot, who is now 35, could not force his way into Brown's thinking. Indeed, McCoist had more appearances for the BBC than he did for Rangers earlier in the sesaon, when Marco Negri kept him unemployed.

Brown refused to dwell on the exit of his 59-times capped player from the international scene. "You would have to ask Ally how he took the news," he said.

The astute coach, who has steered his side to a second successive major tournament, believes that the class of '98 stand a better chance of clearing the first World Cup hurdle than any of previous Scotland team. His optimism is not dimmed by the world ratings, which list the Scots as the weakest side in a group which also contains Brazil, Norway and Morocco.

"We are better equipped than we were going into Euro 96," Brown said. "There is stiffer competition within the squad. Christian Dailly has had two good years in the Premiership with Derby, while Paul Lambert has done well with Borussia Dortmund and Celtic. John Collins has also had two good years' experience with Monaco."

What pleases Brown more is that Kevin Gallacher looks sharp enough to convert the few chances that tend to come the Scots' way. Presumably, being able to rely on the Blackburn striker and Rangers' Gordon Durie counted against McCoist. "Going into Euro 96, Kevin was just back after a broken leg, whereas he is going into the World Cup on the back of a season where he has scored 20 goals in one of the best leagues in the world," Brown said.

The Scots will take five forwards to the United States, where they play games Colombia on 23 May, in New York, and the hosts on 30 May, in Washington. They include Simon Donnelly and Darren Jackson of Celtic, and Scott Booth of Borussia Dortmund, whom Brown pencilled in after watching play last Sunday against Ajax for Utrecht, to whom he is on loan.

The most surprising of his 22 choices is the Celtic defender Tosh McKinlay, who is included despite his most recent appearance for his club being last September in a Uefa Cup tie against Liverpool. However, Brown has remained loyal to a man who played in 10 qualifying games, particularly because he offers cover at left wing-back.

SCOTLAND SQUAD (v Colombia, 23 May; v USA, 30 May): Goram (Rangers), Leighton (Aberdeen), Sullivan (Wimbledon), Boyd (Celtic), Calderwood (Tottenham), Dailly (Derby), Elliott (Leicester), Hendry (Blackburn), Weir (Hearts), Whyte (Aberdeen), T McKinlay (Celtic), Burley (Celtic), Collins (Monaco), Gemmill (Forest), Lambert (Celtic), B McKinlay (Blackburn), McNamara (Celtic), Booth (Borussia Dortmund), Donnelly (Celtic), Durie (Rangers), Gallacher (Blackburn), Jackson (Celtic).