Scots scramble for starting roles

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The Independent Online
John McGinlay, the Bolton Wanderers striker, will win his ninth cap in today's friendly against Sweden in Stockholm's Rasunda stadium - and could elbow his way into the battle to become a Scotland front-line regular at next summer's European Championship finals.

McGinlay, who went to the 1982 World Cup finals in Spain as a supporter, wants to avoid being left in merely a supportive role next June. Today he plays alongside the recalled John Robertson, of Heart of Midlothian.

While Scotland are playing the Swedes, their fate in qualifying Group Eight could be decided in Moscow where Russia face Greece. If the Greeks fail to win, Craig Brown's side will be assured of, at worst, second place in the group and the qualification calculations can begin.

"I do not think there's such thing as a friendly game and certainly not in our case with it being so important to impress the manager," McGinlay said yesterday. "Even just making the squad for the finals, if we qualify, would be great for me."

He and Robertson are paired in the absence of Ally McCoist, Duncan Ferguson, John Spencer and Aberdeen's Scott Booth, who is in Stockholm but unfit. Aberdeen's Stewart McKimmie will play in a back-three system with Blackburn's Colin Hendry and Colin Calderwood of Tottenham. The full-backs - Celtic's Tom Boyd and Chelsea's Craig Burley - will push forward to support.

With the Swedes lacking both Jonas Thern and Martin Dahlin, Alan McLaren, of Rangers, could be given a marking job on Tomas Brolin.

SCOTLAND (Friendly v Sweden, Stockholm, today): Leighton (Hibernian); McKimmie (Aberdeen), Calderwood (Tottenham), Hendry (Blackburn), Burley (Chelsea), McAllister (Leeds), McLaren (Rangers), Collins (Celtic), Boyd (Celtic), Robertson (Hearts), McGinlay (Bolton). Substitutes: Goram (Rangers), B McKinlay (Dundee United), Nevin (Tranmere Rovers), Jess (Aberdeen), D Jackson (Hibernian).

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