McCoist fixed on Euro 96 place

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The Independent Online
Ally McCoist, the injury-hit 33-year-old Rangers striker, is determined to lead from the front for club and country this season.

"You don't need to be Mastermind to know that you have to be playing regularly and scoring to be one of our strikers for Euro 96," McCoist said at the end of Scotland's two-day squad get-together at Troon's Marine Highland Hotel yesterday. "I think I can do that between now and the end of the season. My hunger and desire is still there, rest assured of that."

Unlike his recent run as a guest captain on Question of Sport, McCoist had all the right answers so much so that he used a simple administrative exercise to make his point to Brown.

Scotland's leading players were asked for their favoured shirt number in case they make manager Craig Brown's final selection. "I put down No 9 as my top jersey - and also as my second preference. If that doesn't get the message across, nothing will!" McCoist said.

An appearance against Australia in three weeks' time would land McCoist a place in the Scottish Football Association's Hall of Fame for players with 50 caps. However, McCoist has started only two matches for Rangers in 1996 with a series of niggling injuries.

In his 13 years at Ibrox, he has seen off a couple of dozen rival strikers - from Mark Falco to Oleg Salenko - and had a warning for latest pounds 1.5m arrival from Denmark, Erik Bo Andersen.

"I still feel if I am playing for Rangers I will score more goals than anyone," McCoist said.

Yesterday the Euro 96 games against the Netherlands, England and Switzerland were in the sights of McCoist, Brown and company as they did a light training session at Kilmarnock, minus several injured players.

"It has been very worthwhile having the players together for 30 hours," Brown said. "We have undergone the statutory medical tests for every player, including drugs, which has been stepped up after the Diane Modahl affair in athletics.

"Now I have two months to settle on the squad because I would like to tell players by the end of the league season on 4 May."

The squad for 27 March friendly against Australia at Hampden will be the next guide and Blackburn's Kevin Gallacher is a contender to start that game after more than two years' exile.

"I've been through hell," said Gallacher, who has suffered two broken legs. "Colin Hendry kept coming back from Scotland trips and kept me in touch with what was going on, so that was a help. And seeing the way Alan Shearer came back after a medial knee ligament injury was another inspiration.

"I was in the Scotland squad for the European Championships in Sweden, so I would love to do it again, especially after losing two years of my career."