Brown worried by Old Firm game

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The Independent Online

The Scotland coach, Craig Brown, said yesterday he was praying that this weekend's match between Rangers and Celtic would not wreck his squad for the World Cup qualifier against Latvia.

The Scotland coach, Craig Brown, said yesterday he was praying that this weekend's match between Rangers and Celtic would not wreck his squad for the World Cup qualifier against Latvia.

The Scotland manager included eight players from the Old Firm rivals in his 23-man squad for the Group Six game in Riga on Saturday 2 September.

"There are so many vital players featuring in the game [tomorrow] at Parkhead that I will not rest easy until they have all come safely through it," said Brown.

Neil McCann, Billy Dodds, Barry Ferguson and Allan Johnston of champions Rangers were included, along with Celtic's Paul Lambert, Jackie McNamara, Tom Boyd and Jonathan Gould.

There was no place, however, for the Celtic striker Mark Burchill, who scored the fastest ever hat-trick in European football on Thursday when netting three goals in four minutes in the 7-0 Uefa Cup qualifying victory over Jeunesse d'Esch of Luxembourg.

Burchill, 20, has been a regular in the national squad for the last year, but the transfer-listed striker's lack of first-team action saw him dropped into the Under-21 squad.

"I may still call him up if we have problems," said Brown, "but he has not had enough top team action recently."

The Derby midfielder Craig Burley, who has a knee problem, is the main injury worry for the Scots, who are seeking to qualify for their seventh World Cup out of the last eight.

Scotland will also play a friendly against Australia on 15 November. The game will fill a gap in the international calendar after the World Cup qualifiers against Latvia, San Marino and Croatia.

The Ipswich midfielder Matt Holland and Watford striker Dominic Foley have been included in the Republic of Ireland squad for the World Cup qualifier against the Netherlands at the Amsterdam ArenA on 2 September. Holland and Foley both impressed during the Republic's three-match unbeaten tour of America during the summer.

The manager, Mick McCarthy, has pruned his original 30-man squad down to 22 players with the Manchester United midfielder Roy Keane again named as captain.

"On present performances this is the squad that I feel fully justifies my selection," said McCarthy, who must also plan for qualifiers against Portugal, Estonia, Cyprus and Andorra.

The Irish face a tough start to their qualifying campaign with Saturday week's meeting with the Dutch, followed by an away game against the other beaten semi-finalists in the European Championship, Portugal, in Lisbon in October.

The Republic squad assembles in Dublin on Monday night and will have training sessions both Tuesday and Wednesday before flying out to Amsterdam on Thursday morning.

Scotland Squad (v Latvia): Douglas (Dundee), Gould (Celtic), Sullivan (Tottenham), Boyd (Celtic), Dailly (Blackburn), Elliott (Leicester), Hendry (Coventry), Naysmith (Hearts), O'Neil (Wolfsburg), Pressley (Hearts), Weir (Everton), Burley (Derby), Cameron (Hearts), Davidson (Leicester), Ferguson (Rangers), Holt (Kilmarnock), Johnston (Rangers), Lambert (Celtic), McNamara (Celtic), Dodds (Rangers), Gallacher (Newcastle), Hutchison (Sunderland), McCann (Rangers).

Republic Of Ireland Squad (v Netherlands): A Kelly (Blackburn), Given (Newcastle Utd), Kiely (Charlton), Carr (Tottenham), G Kelly (Leeds), Harte (Leeds), Staunton (Liverpool), Breen (Coventry), Dunne (Everton), Babb (Sporting Lisbon), Roy Keane (Man Utd), Kinsella (Charlton), Finnan (Fulham), McAteer (Blackburn), Kennedy (Manchester City), Kilbane (Sunderland), Duff (Blackburn), Holland (Ipswich), Quinn (Sunderland), Connolly (Excelsior), Robbie Keane (Internazionale), Foley (Watford).

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