Football: Brown looks for colourful climax

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The Independent Online
CRAIG BROWN will supervise Scotland's international players in Malta next week, not knowing if the curtain call of another World Cup campaign also indicates the end of his temporary reign as manager.

Andy Roxburgh's former assistant was placed in charge on a two-match basis and his time will be over at the conclusion of an unhappy qualifying series in Valletta. Brown, whose first team selection performed adequately in Rome last month, would like the situation resolved as soon as possible so that he can plan ahead or resume his duties as Under-21 coach.

The Scottish Football Association's International Committee are due to meet in Malta to discuss the permanent post, but Brown said: 'I've had no indication at all about my future.' Brown has invited the Hibernian manager, Alex Miller, to be assistant in Malta.

Brown is viewing the final game in the World Cup series as an opportunity to start planning for next season's European Championship qualifying competition. 'We don't have anyone in the squad over the age of 30, so that is a good starting point for the next European campaign,' the caretaker manager, who has taken no risks with his 21-strong pool, said.

The Tottenham striker, Gordon Durie, and Rangers' erratic goalkeeper, Ally Maxwell, are left out of the calculations along with Motherwell's Phil O'Donnell, who loses out due to an abundance of talent in midfield.

Back into the squad, and likely to play in Malta's Ta'Qali Stadium, are the Celtic midfielder, John Collins, and Blackburn Rovers' uncompromising stopper Colin Hendry, a player willing to 'crawl over broken glass to get a game' according to Brown.

Hendry, 28 next month, showed up promisingly in two games against Estonia last season, but was injured when Scotland's World Cup hopes ended against Switzerland and Italy.

SCOTLAND SQUAD (v Malta, World Cup Group One, Valletta, 17 November): Gunn (Norwich City), Main (Dundee United); Boyd, McStay, Collins (all Celtic), D Robertson, I Ferguson, Durrant, McCall (all Rangers), McKimmie, Irvine, Jess (all Aberdeen), Hendry, Gallacher (both Blackburn Rovers), McCart, McKinnon (both Motherwell), McLaren (Heart of Midlothian), Bowman (Dundee United), McAllister (Leeds United), McKinlay (Dundee United), Nevin (Tranmere Rovers).

SCOTLAND UNDER-21 SQUAD (v Malta, European Under-21 Championship Group One, Paola, 16 November): Kerr (Celtic), Gardiner (Hibernian); Locke, Thomas (both Heart of Midlothian), Pressley (Rangers), Wright, Booth (both Aberdeen), Dair, Crawford (both Raith Rovers), Hood (Ayr United), Lavin (Watford), McNamara (Dunfermline Athletic), Liddell (Barnsley), Lavety, Baker, Fullerton (all St Mirren), Bernard (Oldham Athletic), Sheerin (Southampton), O'Donnell (Motherwell), Dailly (Dundee United).

Billy Bingham has called up Manchester City's youngster, Steve Lomas, to the international stage in his final match in charge of Northern Ireland. Lomas is the only newcomer in Bingham's squad for his swansong against the Republic of Ireland in the World Cup qualifier next Wednesday in Belfast. Republic fans are defying official advice by planning to travel in some numbers to Belfast.

NORTHERN IRELAND SQUAD (v Republic of Ireland, World Cup Group Three, Belfast, 17 November): Wright (Nottingham Forest), Fettis (Hull City); Taggart, Fleming (both Barnsley), Donaghy (Chelsea), McDonald (Queen's Park Rangers), Worthington (Sheffield Wednesday), Rowland (West Ham), Wilson (Notts County), Quinn (Reading), Magilton (Oxford United), Hughes (Strasbourg), Dowie (Southampton), P Gray (Sunderland), Black (Nottingham Forest), O'Neill (Hibernian), McGibbon (Manchester United), Lomas (Manchester City).