Scotland distract McNamara

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The Independent Football

Jackie McNamara feels that Scotland's friendly against Sweden tomorrow night has come at the worst possible time.

Jackie McNamara feels that Scotland's friendly against Sweden tomorrow night has come at the worst possible time.

He is aware the national team must get back on track after Berti Vogts's departure and the dismal start to their World Cup qualifying campaign. But the next 10 days will be crucial for Celtic's domestic and European season.

Rangers have already denied the Parkhead side the chance of a treble after dumping them out the CIS Insurance Cup last week - ending Celtic's Old Firm stranglehold. Now Rangers will be hoping to close the gap on Celtic to just one point when the two sides meet again in the Scottish Premier League on Saturday.

Next will be the Champions' League meeting with Barcelona at the Nou Camp as Celtic attempt to claim third place in their group and thus enter the Uefa Cup. McNamara admits focusing on Scotland will be hard.

"It's at the back of everyone's minds. There is a big week ahead and it's maybe a game that's not ideal at the moment, but we're here training and playing and we have to get on with it and try to take positives from the game.

"It's come at a difficult time personally but we just have to be professional," McNamara added.

Tommy Burns, who is in temporary charge of Scotland, is likely to delay any decision on Barry Ferguson until tomorrow. The Blackburn midfielder is doubtful with a shin injury.

Burns has added the Aberdeen midfielder Scott Severin to the squad after the withdrawal of four injured players.

The Wolves midfielder Colin Cameron, Everton defender Gary Naysmith and strikers Steven Thompson, of Rangers, and Blackburn's Paul Dickov were all ruled out when the squad gathered for training at Dumbarton yesterday.

Squad, Digest, page 47

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