Football: Brown rewards Hearts pair

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The Independent Online
HEARTS' IMPRESSIVE rise to challenge the Old Firm was yesterday rewarded by Craig Brown, the Scotland manager, when he drafted in Steve Fulton and Neil McCann into his squad for the start of the Euro 2000 qualifying campaign.

The Scots meet Lithuania in the Zalgiris stadium in Vilnius tomorrow week with five omissions from the 22-man squad which failed to reach the second phase of France 98.

Callum Davidson, of Blackburn, and David Hopkin, the Leeds midfielder, are the two other newcomers chosen by Brown, as he makes an attempt to restore his country's footballing reputation in the wake of the 3-0 World Cup defeat to Morocco in St Etienne.

Of those missing, Celtic's Craig Burley is suspended following his red card against the Moroccans, while Gordon Durie is out of contention because of the ankle injury he collected in Rangers' Uefa Cup tie against PAOK Salonika.

The Celtic pair, Tosh McKinlay and Jackie McNamara, are also omitted, though the latter has been struggling with a knee problem recently, while Scott Booth is unable to retain his place despite better form at Borussia Dortmund.

Fulton's inclusion was not a surprise, as he excelled in front of the watching Brown during last Saturday's 2-0 victory against Aberdeen, in which he produced a contender for goal of the season with a stunning 25- yard strike beyond the reach of the goalkeeper Jim Leighton.

McCann has been an important player in Hearts' recent resurgence and featured in both the Scotland B fixtures played towards the end of last season.

He has also overcome Brown's earlier concerns that he lacks the quality to take on the world's best.

SCOTLAND SQUAD (European Championship qualifier v Lithuania, Vilnius, 5 Sept): Gould (Celtic), Leighton (Aberdeen), Sullivan (Wimbledon); Boyd (Celtic), Calderwood (Tottenham), Dailly (Blackburn), Davidson (Blackburn), Elliott (Leicester), Hendry (Rangers), Weir (Hearts), Whyte (Aberdeen); Collins (Everton), Fulton (Hearts), Gemmill (Nottingham Forest), Hopkin (Leeds), Lambert (Celtic), McCann (Hearts), B McKinlay (Blackburn); Donnelly (Celtic), Gallacher (Blackburn), Jackson (Celtic).