Scotland draft in Brown to bridge shortfall up front

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The Independent Football

Scotland will take off from Glasgow this morning for tomorrow's Euro 2008 qualifying match in Lithuania devoid of four players due to injury and illness but with Hibernian's Scott Brown drafted in as cover up front.

Three of the casualties - Wigan's Lee McCulloch, Reading's Graeme Murty and Celtic's Stephen McManus - played no part in Saturday's 6-0 Group B home victory over the Faroe Islands. The fourth, Lokomotiv Moscow's Garry O'Connor, scored after coming on as a substitute.

McCulloch and Murty have both been sent back to their clubs after failing to recover from knee problems. McManus might yet travel to Lithuania but has little chance of playing because of a thigh strain. O'Connor was being kept isolated from the rest of the squad yesterday because he has a stomach bug.

"I would doubt whether we'll bring him back in the group purely on the basis that the bug may spread around," said Tommy Burns, Walter Smith's assistant coach. "It's better safe than sorry. We've asked Hibs for Scott Brown."

The biggest dilemma for Smith in Kaunas will be how to change his side from the attacking 4-3-3 formation and personnel that demolished the Faroes at the weekend. It seems that the first striker to be confined to the bench could be Everton's James McFadden, although the 23-year-old had an excellent game on Saturday.

The player himself said last night that his goals tally for his country - 10 goals in 28 caps - would not guarantee him a start.

"Everyone knows the [more defensive] formation we play away from home and it has been effective so I would expect the manager to revert back to that," he said.

"Obviously, I would like to play but if the manager picks other players in my place I would understand and I would just have to get on with it . It doesn't matter who scores the goals as long as we win."

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