Scotland head for Belarus showdown without key pair

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The Independent Football

Scotland's injury worries continued ahead of tomorrow's World Cup qualifier in Belarus when two more players were added to the list of absentees.

The Celtic captain Jackie McNamara, who was forced off before half-time in Saturday's 2-0 win over Moldova, has a back injury, and winger Neil McCann of Southampton, who was hurt in training before that match, has not recovered.

Scotland's manager Walter Smith was already without a number of key players through injury, including Gary Naysmith, of Everton, and Southampton's Nigel Quashie. Midfielder Paul Hartley is suspended for the game in Minsk but Gary Caldwell, of Hibernian, is back in contention after he served a one-match ban on Saturday.

A number of other players picked up knocks in the Moldova match, which was won by goals from Christian Dailly and James McFadden, but all were able to travel as the party flew from Glasgow Airport yesterday.

McFadden insisted the depleted squad would still be strong enough to cope without McNamara and McCann. He said: "It's a massive loss to the team. They are two great players. We will need to cope without them and I am confident that we can."

McFadden was also hopeful of a starting place in Minsk but understood if that did not happen.

He said: "It's not for me to decide. The manager made his decision on Saturday and it worked, so he cannot be criticised."

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