Scotland look on the positive side

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The Independent Online
The Faroe Islands are on a win bonus of just pounds 500 a man to wreck Scotland's European Championship dream. Craig Brown's under-strength side face the part-timers tonight in an important Group Eight tie in Toftir, and three points are essential if the Scots are to stay on course for England next summer.

"Everything is possible in football," Allan Simonsen, the Faroes' coach and former Charlton player, said. "It will be a sensation if we can win or even get a point. Sometimes in this game there are sensations, though, and I hope there will be one here."

Brown's major fitness worry is the Motherwell defender Brian Martin, who has a calf injury, although the coach has already lost no fewer than 14 players with fitness problems.

"We are entering this game with positive thoughts," Brown said. "An acceptable result is a victory, but we want a good performance to go with it. I'm not contemplating a shock, but I never do. If you think about something too much, it can happen."

Mike Smith sends his Welsh team out for revenge against Georgia tonight knowing he needs a victory as much as his side do. Following their 5-0 defeat at the hands of the talented Georgians in Tbilisi in November, they have shown vastly improved displays against Bulgaria and Germany.

"What happened in Tbilisi was hard to cope with - for all of us. Everything seemed to be wrong while everything they touched went in, but they outplayed us and we had no excuses," the beleaguered manager admitted. "We've looked at the nightmare video a few times and we're ready for it tonight."

Swansea's John Cornforth has his first start, while Adrian Williams of Reading is paired with Portsmouth's Kit Symons in the absence through injury of Gary Speed and Chris Coleman.

Bryan Hamilton, the Northern Ireland manager, has delayed naming his team for tonight's Group Six qualifier against Latvia in Belfast until today. Manchester United's defender Pat McGibbon and the Tottenham winger Gerard McMahon are poised for call-ups, after impressing on the recent tour of Canada.

The club ground at Cardiff Arms Park staged its first football match last night as Wales beat Georgia 5-1 in a European Under-21 Championship qualifier. Bristol Rovers' Gareth Taylor and Liverpool's Lee Jones scored two apiece. England's "reserve" Under-21 side opened their defence of the Toulon tournament with a 2-0 loss to Brazil - the senior Under-21 side face Latvia in a European Under-21 Championship qualifier at Burnley tonight.

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