Murray and Anderson out to solve defensive dilemma

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The Independent Football

Berti Vogts wrestles with the dilemma of how to replace a clutch of defensive mainstays in Saturday's World Cup qualifying match against Norway at Hampden Park.

Many an illustrious Scotland career has had its origins in the misfortunes of others. Ian Murray and Russell Anderson, who have five caps between them, hope to follow suit as Berti Vogts wrestles with the dilemma of how to replace a clutch of defensive mainstays in Saturday's World Cup qualifying match against Norway at Hampden Park.

Murray, the versatile Hibernian captain, and Anderson, the Aberdeen full-back, may be thrust into front-line duty in Scotland's back line because of the absence of the West Ham United duo, Christian Dailly and Malky Mackay, Celtic's Jackie McNamara and Dundee's Lee Wilkie. Both players are eager to grasp the opportunity, having endured their share of setbacks since they first forced their way into Vogts' thinking.

The 23-year-old Murray recently returned from a 10-month absence in which he had two hernia operations and knee surgery. Nominally a midfielder, he played in central defence for Hibs at Dunfermline last Saturday. Doubts over Scotland's senior remaining centre-back, the virus-ridden Steven Pressley, could lead to his being paired with Hearts' Andy Webster as Vogts seeks to stifle the aerial threat of John Carew.

"I'm comfortable in most positions, but I prefer the centre of the pitch, be it in midfield or defence," Murray said yesterday. "But wherever the manager asked me to play, I'll be happy just to get on the park. It's good to be involved with Scotland again so soon after just five first-team games with Hibs, and to do so in a big match like this is excellent."

Anderson, 25, has represented his country four times to Murray's once. However, he did not touch the ball on his debut, as a late substitute against Iceland, and suffered a head injury after just 20 minutes against Portugal in one of his three appearances in friendlies. "If I'm called upon, I'll play anywhere," he said. "There are a few players with knocks right now but there's a few days to go, so we'll have to wait and see."

Vogts, who lost Neil McCann to injury on Monday in between announcing his squad and discussing it with the media, has summoned Richard Hughes, of Portsmouth, as a replacement. The Glaswegian, now 25 but released by Arsenal as a teenager, starts as back-up to Vogts' midfield. With another World Cup match to follow on Wednesday, away to Moldova, there is every chance he will add to his two caps.

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