Scotland blow as groin injury forces out Cameron

Click to follow
The Independent Football

Colin Cameron has been forced to withdraw from the Scotland squad to play the Netherlands in the Euro 2004 play-offs. The Wolverhampton Wanderers midfielder will miss Saturday's first leg at Hampden Park and the decider in Amsterdam four days later because of a groin problem.

The Scotland manager, Berti Vogts, had said that he was hopeful Cameron would play after talking with the Wolves manager, Dave Jones, on Monday evening. But Cameron has since been checked by the Scotland medical team, who quickly ruled him out of both matches.

A Scottish Football Association spokesman said: "He was fully assessed by the doctors last night [Tuesday] and he will not be featuring in either match.

"He is travelling back to his club for further treatment because his groin injury is not going to have recovered in time for him to play."

No replacement for Cameron, who has been capped 23 times and would have started, has been called up.

Vogts still has 24 players at his disposal although the centre-back Steven Pressley is receiving treatment for a groin injury. Cameron's withdrawal opens the door for Motherwell's Stephen Pearson, who has been elevated from the Under-21s for the first time, to start on the left of midfield.

Another option would be to give Darren Fletcher, the Manchester United teenager, his first start as a reward for coming off the bench and scoring the only goal of the game in the final group match against Lithuania.

"It would be really special to start against Holland and win my third cap," said Fletcher, whose two caps have come from substitute appearances against Norway and Lithuania over the past three months. "There has been a bit of reaction since that goal, but I am the same Darren Fletcher and I think the better you do in football the more notice is going to come. For me, the more the better."

Vogts said after the Lithuania match on 11 October: "Darren is in the national team from now on even though he can play in the Under-21s."

The Netherlands, coached by the former Rangers manager Dick Advocaat, are strong favourites to beat Scotland and reach next summer's finals in Portugal, but Fletcher is optimistic about Scotland's chances of causing an upset.

"It's going to be a big task as we wanted to avoid Spain and Holland in the play-offs, but now we've just got to deal with it," he said. "If we give 100 per cent and a good account of ourselves, there's no reason why we can't go through. Stranger things have happened."

The Dunfermline striker Stevie Crawford, however, played down talk of a rift between Advocaat and the recalled Manchester United striker Ruud van Nistelrooy.

"Sometimes players don't see eye-to-eye with their managers, and Van Nistelrooy and Advocaat have maybe had a wee fall-out, but the quality they have up front is frightening, to say the least," Crawford said.