Davidson and O'Neil withdraw

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The Independent Football

Callum Davidson and Brian O'Neil have been forced to pull out of the Scotland squad for the World Cup qualifying double-header with Croatia and Belgium. The Leicester wing-back Davidson and the Derby centre-half O'Neil both arrived at the squad's Troon headquarters with problems to be assessed by medical staff.

"Both have left and returned to their clubs because they were not going to be fit for either match," the Scotland manager, Craig Brown, said. "In both cases it would have been a risk, and we don't take risks at international level."

Neither will be replaced unless there are further injuries or suspensions after Saturday's Hampden Park visit of Croatia.

The Scots fly out on Monday to Brussels for the meeting with Belgium, and John O'Neil of Hibernian and Dundee's Gavin Rae have been told they are on stand-by in the midfield department. The Rangers striker Kenny Miller will be elevated from the Under-21 squad if any of the strikers have to drop out.

The Celtic defender Tom Boyd and Hearts' Steven Pressley were unable to train yesterday because of knocks. Boyd has a thigh strain and Pressley a twisted knee, but neither are serious doubts.

One of Brown's selection problems concerns a lack of match fitness of certain players who are either out of favour at their clubs or returning from injury. The first of those problems is currently affecting the Rangers duo Billy Dodds and Neil McCann, plus Paul Dickov of Manchester City. They, and Everton's Gary Naysmith, played in a Hampden Park match against the Scotland Under-18 team yesterday to top up their fitness levels.

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