Ferguson and McGregor left out after 'all-night' drinks session

Scotland manager Burley dropped pair for Iceland match after incident at hotel
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The Independent Football

Barry Ferguson and Allan McGregor were dropped to the bench for Scotland's World Cup qualifier against Iceland last night after a breach of discipline, the Scottish Football Association confirmed.

It is understood the Rangers duo were involved in a drinking session at Scotland's Loch Lomond base after they returned from Saturday's 3-0 defeat by the Netherlands in Amsterdam.

An SFA spokesman said yesterday: "We can confirm that there has been a breach of team discipline. This has been dealt with within the squad. The focus of today is victory this evening and we will be going all out for three points."

It is alleged that Ferguson and McGregor, who both play for Rangers, carried on drinking in front of guests at the Cameron House Hotel hours after their team-mates had drifted off to their rooms, much to George Burley's anger.

The Scotland manager had reportedly given the players permission to have a drink after they arrived back from Amsterdam on Saturday night. However, it is believed that Ferguson and McGregor were still at the bar when the squad started to assemble for a late breakfast on Sunday. Reports also suggested that the goalkeeper had had his head shaved by his team-mate.

The first public indications of the incident came when Ferguson failed to appear at Tuesday's press conference at Dumbarton as Burley hinted at "big decisions" to be made with regards to team selection.

The incident threw into disarray Burley's plans for the game against Iceland for the Scots, who need all three points if they are to have a chance of qualifying for South Africa through the play-offs as a second-placed country.

"There's a lot of big decisions to be made," Burley said. "I will speak to my staff but it's one where I need to back my own judgement. I won't worry about other factors, simply what I feel will be the best team to win."

Burley's dramatic action casts doubt over the future of Ferguson who, despite winning 45 caps, has played just once for Scotland in the last 14 months. McGregor, who was to be replaced by the regular No 1 Craig Gordon, has won only four caps.

The former Celtic captain Tom Boyd, who won 72 caps for Scotland, believes Ferguson should not have been involved in such an embarrassing incident. "We have to wait and see what happens with both these two," he said. "I've experienced this with Celtic players but I think you have got a totally different culture now.

"With Barry being the national captain he has to show a bit more responsibility. But George Burley will have to deal with this. If there has been a breach of rules he will have to see what the punishment is."

Tony Parkes was shocked to hear of Ferguson being dropped after his breach of discipline. Parkes was the caretaker manager for a spell during Ferguson's time at Blackburn and described the midfielder, now 31, as a "first-class pro".

Parkes said: "He loved playing for Scotland so this has come as a big shock to me. I didn't expect to read things about Barry Ferguson misbehaving. At Blackburn, he was a first-class pro.

"He was a bit on the quiet side. He liked his football and he liked to talk about football. Obviously, you don't know what they're doing when they are away from the football club. But, at the club, he was very professional, wanted to win and was very, very good to work with."

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