Best gives blessing as Vogts' decides to bring in Quashie

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The Independent Football

The Scotland manager, Berti Vogts, has revealed how George Best gave his seal of approval to the German's decision to bring in the Portsmouth midfielder Nigel Quashie to his international squad.

Quashie has previously played for England at Under-21 level but qualifies for Scotland through his grandfather, who was born in Glasgow.

Best, the former Manchester United great, is a regular visitor to Fratton Park and found himself next to Vogts at one game. The former Northern Ireland international, who had a short spell in Scotland with Hibernian near the end of his career, told Vogts that the 25-year-old Quashie was a player he enjoyed watching.

"He always watches Portsmouth home matches as he is a big friend of the president," Vogts said of Best. "I asked him who his favourite player was and he said 'Nigel Quashie'. He is a very good player. Maybe George Best can work with me in the future, too He knows Scottish football really well. He wasn't interested in talking just about the past. He knows that Scotland's future is 2006 and 2008 and that is the only way forward for Scottish football."

Quashie was one of a sprinkling of new faces in the squad to face Denmark in Copenhagen next Wednesday. He played four times for the England Under-21 side between 1997 and 1998 while at Queen's Park Rangers and also played a B international against Chile in 1998.

Quashie hails from London but Vogts said his Caledonian credentials were strong enough. "He feels Scottish and is very pleased he can play for Scotland," said Vogts. "He is a good player and a left-footer. We need left-footers in the team."

Quashie is in line to play as a defensive midfielder - a role Vogts is keen to fill in the absence of the injured Barry Ferguson. The Norwich City midfielder Gary Holt, a player Vogts has ignored since April 2002, is another candidate for that position.

"I need a player in the holding position in midfield and that is also why Gary Holt is back," Vogts said. "I have also watched Norwich three or four times in the last three weeks."

Holt, 31, has been out of favour since the Greman's first game at the helm, a 5-0 defeat in France. Holt was sent on as a substitute that night - and was then taken off himself. The former Kilmarnock player has been seething ever since and voiced his hope that the Vogts era would soon come to a halt.

But Vogts said: "I want players who are angry that they are not in the squad. I appreciate that. We will speak together on Sunday and Monday and we will also have to speak about the match against the French two years ago. But we have already had a good chat - and I am very pleased he is angry. I love that."

Denmark beat the Scots 1-0 at Hampden Park last August and Vogts is keen to counter the Scandinavians' pace, especially down the flanks. That resulted in a call-up for the former Under-21 player Peter Canero, who has graduated from Kilmarnock to the Premiership side, Leicester City.

Canero is not the only Leicester man in the squad as Paul Dickov, who missed last month's 2-1 friendly defeat by Romania, is likely to return. Dickov is one of a number of players facing charges in Spain following a club trip to La Manga, but Vogts was glad to welcome him back. "I was always in contact with Paul," he said. "He is very clear in his mind and that is great."

The third newcomer to the set-up is the experienced Malky Mackay, Holt's team-mate at Norwich. The 32-year-old fills a gap left by the injured John Kennedy, whose senior debut was ruined by a reckless challenge from Romania's Vio Ganea last month.

"We are missing John Kennedy and Lee Wilkie," Vogts said. "We especially miss John Kennedy. He is one of the best young defenders in Europe. Malky Mackay is a good organiser and is good in the air. He has a lot of experience and we need somebody with that."

Everton's Gary Naysmith has dropped out through injury and a lack of first team action at Walsall caused by a contractual dispute has brought Paul Ritchie's international comeback to a halt after just one additional cap.

SCOTLAND SQUAD (v Denmark, 28 April, Copenhagen): R Douglas (Celtic), P Gallacher (Dundee United), C Gordon (Hearts), G Alexander (Preston), G Caldwell (Hibernian), S Caldwell (Newcastle), S Crainey (Southampton), C Dailly (West Ham), M Mackay (Norwich City), J McNamara (Celtic), S Pressley (Hearts), A Webster (Hearts), C Cameron (Wolverhampton Wanderers), P Canero (Leicester), D Fletcher (Man Utd), G Holt (Norwich City), S Pearson (Celtic), N Quashie (Portsmouth), G Rae (Rangers), S Crawford (Dunfermline), P Dickov (Leicester City), K Kyle (Sunderland), N McCann (Southampton), J McFadden (Everton), K Miller (Wolverhampton Wanderers), S Thompson (Rangers).

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