Fresh faces add verve to Scotland's next venture

EURO 96: Manager Brown anxious not to repeat mistakes made after last championship by calling on young contenders
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The Independent Online
Craig Brown yesterday formally registered the 22 players on duty in the United States as Scotland's pool for the European Championship - and promptly unveiled plans to "freshen up" his squad when the World Cup qualifying campaign starts later in the summer.

In contrast with his English counterpart's brinkmanship over Peter Beardsley and Robert Lee, Brown had no agonising choices to make. The selection process was simplified by the unavailability of Alan McLaren, Paul McStay and Duncan Ferguson. Only two players not included, Richard Gough and Pat Nevin, might have made the cut in different circumstances.

More than half the squad are aged 30 or over, the average being reduced to 29 only by the inclusion of back-up players such as Eoin Jess and Scot Gemmill. There are 12 Scottish-based players and 10 "Anglos". Ally McCoist is the only member whose goal tally at international level is into double figures.

Brown gave a glimpse of the possible future composition of the Scotland side by revealing the names of six players who comprised his "contingency plan" for the finals. The defenders were Arsenal's Scott Marshall, of whose performance in the Under-21 team's 2-1 defeat in Barcelona he had received glowing reports, and Celtic's Jackie McNamara.

The midfield understudies were Stephen Glass, of Aberdeen, and Charlie Miller, of Rangers, with Barnsley's Andy Liddell and Crystal Palace's Dougie Freedman the stand-by strikers. A further six teenaged players, among them Aberdeen's Jamie Buchan, son of the former Scotland captain Martin, are to cover for injured players at training games in England.

"After we played so well at Euro 92 in Sweden, we went into the opening World Cup qualifier in Switzerland with the same squad," Brown recalls. "We lost 3-1, and maybe with hindsight we should have brou- ght in some fresh faces.

"We've already tried to chan- ge it a bit with the Gemmills and the Burleys, and we'll be looking at these players very carefully before we go to Austria at the end of August," Brown said.

"But first things first - we now have to concentrate on peaking three times in eight days."

To that end, Scotland today will work on set pieces. Perhaps stung by the suggestion of the United States captain, John Harkes, that they looked "like a team on vacation", Brown will also stage a full-scale practice match tomorrow at the Orange Bowl, scene of their overnight friendly against Colombia.

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