Football: Scotland's plans in chaos

Scottish round-up
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The Independent Online
Craig Brown, the Scotland coach, will have to wait until Wednesday before he will have any idea of his side to face Belarus in the World Cup qualifying tie at Pittodrie on Saturday.

Colin Hendry, the Blackburn Rovers captain, was carried off wearing a neck brace during the match with Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park on Saturday while Gary McAllister, the Scotland captain, will report despite missing the game against Manchester United with a knee injury.

Brown already has lost the services of Darren Jackson, the Celtic striker who will require an operation for water on the brain. There is also a doubt over the fitness of John Collins, who has only just come back from injury.

"It could be bad news for Scotland if Hendry's injury is as bad as it sounds," said Brown. "Luckily we have David Weir and Christian Dailly doing well in that position but we can't afford too many replacements."

The Scottish medical staff will assess the fitness of the doubtful players on their arrival on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, confirmation of the drawing power of Celtic and Rangers was evident from a crowd of 33,800 that turned up at Ibrox on Saturday for a reserve game. The three Premier Division matches played on the same day totalled just 164 more, giving an idea of the task facing those sides who would see themselves as title contenders.

Even this early in the season, it is clear that the league will again be dominated by Rangers. They are just one point behind Hibernian and Dunfermline, and with the cancellation of tonight's Old Firm game they have played two games less.

Hibs, who only retained their Premier Division status last season after a play-off, have had praise heaped upon them this season, but the players failed to impose themselves in the Edinburgh derby against Hearts.

"I hope the players pick up the papers and read the criticism they'll get because they deserve it," said Jim Duffy, the Hibs manager. "We screamed the whole game at them to give the ball to Tony Rougier, who could have won the game for us, but they decided not to do that."

A touchline confrontation between the two assistant managers is likely to result in Billy Brown of Hearts being reported to the Scottish Football Association for his conduct.

Dunfermline would have been in the top spot had they continued their first-half form into the second period at East End Park. Two goals from Andy Tod gave the Fife side a 2-0 interval lead over newly promoted St Johnstone, but the visitors forced a deserved draw.

The third Premier Division game provided little relief for Roy Aitken, the Aberdeen manager, who has been the subject of anger and frustration for fans. A 1-1 draw with Dundee United leaves the Aberdeen second from bottom without a victory.

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