Scotland without Hendry

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The Independent Online
Colin Hendry is the latest addition to Scotland's World Cup casualty list, and his absence increases the chance of Brian McAllister making his international debut in the Group Three qualifying match against Latvia in Riga.

The Blackburn defender will today have a hernia operation, which will put him out of action for at least four weeks. That leaves Scotland's coach, Craig Brown, with another headache before the World Cup double header which concludes in Estonia on Wednesday.

The Rangers strikers Ally McCoist and Gordon Durie were also ruled out yesterday from a party already without Duncan Ferguson. The Blackburn forward Kevin Gallacher remains a fitness doubt as Brown ponders a call- up for Dougie Freedman of Crystal Palace, or Bolton's John McGinlay.

"You can add the likes of Paul McStay, Alan McLaren and even Craig Levein, who we have also had to do without," Brown said yesterday of the injury problems, which he refused to call a crisis. "We usually have about four or five call-offs from any squad.

I'll make my mind up tomorrow about bringing in Freedman or McGinlay or even both.

"The call-offs are undoubtedly a blow, but I'm still cautiously optimistic that we can win both games. However, we'll have to be at our very best to collect six points."

The absence of Hendry leaves Calderwood, Boyd, Whyte and Wimbledon's McAllister competing for places in central defence. "I think I'd be very nervous if I did get pitched in against Latvia on Saturday, but it would be a great honour to play for Scotland," McAllister said.

n Andy Legg, the Birmingham winger, will make his home debut for Wales against the Netherlands in a Group Seven qualifying match in Cardiff on Saturday if Sheffield Wednesday's Mark Pembridge fails a fitness test today.