Football: Koeman ruled out: Scotland avoid England's nemesis

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The Independent Online
(First Edition)

RONALD KOEMAN, who did so much to hasten the end of Graham Taylor's career as an international manager, will not now have the opportunity to spoil Craig Brown's first home match in charge of Scotland when the Netherlands visit the revamped Hampden Park tomorrow.

Barcelona's blond sweeper, scorer of the goal which finished off England's lingering hopes of World Cup qualification, last night withdrew from the Dutch squad for the prestige friendly. Koeman sustained a dislocated pelvis in a European Cup match last week, and is replaced by Ajax's Danny Blind.

He joins a glittering array of absentees, including Ruud Gullit and Marco van Basten, although the presence of Dennis Bergkamp and Frank Rijkaard leaves the glamour factor far from absent.

For the Scottish public, the fixture is the first real test of Brown's credibility. His opening match as caretaker successor to Andy Roxburgh ended in a 3-1 defeat in Italy, while he was confirmed to the post on a full-time basis only an hour before the Scots rounded off a disappointing World Cup campaign with victory in Malta.

Brown, who enjoyed limited success as a player before becoming manager of Clyde, is aware that he is not everyone's first choice. 'If I was a punter, I'd rather have Kenny Dalglish too,' he admitted yesterday. 'It's a great responsibility to be accountable to a nation, but I don't feel isolated or threatened.'

Brown is unlikely to name his side until shortly before the game, but hinted that Colin Hendry and Paul McStay will return, the Celtic man partnering Gary McAllister.

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