Burns expects Scotland to enliven 'group of death' with Faroe cruise

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The Independent Online

If Scotland qualify for Euro 2008 from their so-called "group of death" - headlined by the World Cup finalists, Italy and France - it would be the greatest achieve-ment in their international history.

So said Walter Smith's No2, Tommy Burns, yesterday, before praising the current squad as the "best group I've known" and adding "we have to believe we can do it".

Scotland open their Group B campaign at home on Saturday against the Faroe Islands. Hampden Park will be sold out - because Robbie Williams is playing there that day. That's why the football has been switched to Celtic Park, and Burns is convinced that Kenny Miller, who has yet to score for Celtic since his move from Wolverhampton Wanderers, can get off the mark on his club turf.

"He's been a real leader for us," said Burns of Miller, who scored three goals in two World Cup qualifiers against Norway and Italy last season. "He's played extremely well against some first-class opposition. Every striker goes through phases when things don't go for them, but he keeps putting himself in positions to score and, after his first goal, he will be off and running again."

Burns said his players are "under no illusions that they have to win the game". The Faroe Islands have taken a meagre two points from a possible 69 in their last 23 competitive games - one of the two was against Scotland in September 2002.

A three-man attack is being considered by the Scottish, with Miller in a trio with Rangers' Kris Boyd and Everton's James McFadden.

Scotland have no injury worries, and have had no withdrawals from a squad for the first time in four years. "The outstanding feature for me in this group is the club ethic," Burns said. "They're very comfortable with each other. I see this [weekend] as the real start of something."

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