Scots must turn to Ferguson

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The Independent Online
PHIL SHAW

The peculiar anomaly of an August fixture - Scotland's first in 123 years of playing internationals - yesterday afforded Craig Brown the rare opportunity to select from strength for the important European Championship qualifying tie against Greece at Hampden Park a week tonight.

Brown, like his predecessor as Scotland's manager, Andy Roxburgh, has become adept at juggling resources to cover for withdrawals. The scheduling of Greece's visit, less than ideal in that most of his squad have yet to kick a ball in anger, means that only two probables, Bolton's John McGinlay and Celtic's Paul McStay, are indisposed, while Duncan Ferguson is available for the first time in five internationals.

Striking is not Scotland's strongest suit and, in the absence of McGinlay and the long-term casualty Ally McCoist, it will be hard for Brown to resist recalling Ferguson. He saw the Everton enigma score in last week's friendly against Celtic, but warned: "Duncan's had only a handful of games since coming back from a long injury, so we'll have to be careful with him."

Brown has exercised his right to pull Ferguson and Colin Hendry, the Blackburn defender, out of Sunday's Charity Shield game. Hendry is one of four players named who missed Scotland's matches in the spring because they were having surgery. Another, Gary McAllister, will captain the side as Scotland strive to avenge their 1-0 defeat by a fiercely disputed penalty in Athens last December.

With only home games against Finland and San Marino to complete their Group Eight programme, victory would put Scotland in a strong position to reach next summer's finals in England.

SCOTLAND SQUAD (to play Greece, European Championship Group Eight qualifier, at Hampden Park, 16 August): Boyd (Celtic), Burley (Chelsea), Calderwood (Tottenham), Collins (Celtic), Ferguson (Everton), Gemmill (Nottingham Forest), Goram (Rangers), Hendry (Blackburn), Jackson (Hibernian), Leighton (Hibernian), McAllister (Leeds), McCall (Rangers), McKinnie (Aberdeen), McKinlay (Dundee Utd), McKinnon (Motherwell), McLaren (Rangers), Martin (Motherwell), Shearer (Aberdeen), Spencer (Chelsea), Walker (Partick).

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