Scots seek forward momentum



With barely six weeks to go before the European Championship finals, Scotland face Denmark in a friendly here this evening anxious to establish a credible attacking partnership and to maintain their defensive solidity in the face of enforced changes.

Craig Brown has long hankered after the kind of striking duo formed by Ally McCoist and Mo Johnston during the Andy Roxburgh era. Like a hyperactive card dealer, the Scotland manager has shuffled a pack which has variously included McCoist, Duncan Shearer, Andy Walker, Scott Booth, Duncan Ferguson, Eoin Jess, Darren Jackson and John McGinlay. In the Parken Stadium, the onus will be on John Spencer and Kevin Gallacher to prove that they are a winning hand.

Brown's search for a forward with pace who can play through the middle off the last defender has belatedly led him back to Gallacher, who has spent much of the season on the treatment table or the substitutes' bench after twice breaking a leg with Blackburn. As a winger in a previous incarnation with Dundee United and Coventry, Gallacher also offers Scotland the option of width.

The diminutive Spencer is likely to play slightly deeper, in the role he reluctantly fills for Chelsea. He has yet to score in six appearances for Scotland, whereas Gallacher boasts just two goals in the course of 20 caps spread over eight years. The only time they have been on the pitch together was the second half of last month's 1-0 victory over Australia, but with Ferguson out of the tournament and Booth doubtful, it is a case of needs must.

During a 10-match qualifying campaign in which they conceded only three goals, Scotland developed a redoubtable three-man defensive unit in front of Jim Leighton. Now, injuries to Alan McLaren (knee) and Colin Calderwood (medial ligament) have disrupted their plans, with the Rangers player in particular facing a race against time to make the finals.

Should the Scots elect to persevere with wing-backs and three defenders against the Danes, the likelihood is that Colin Hendry will be joined by Tom Boyd and Stewart McKimmie, the latter possibly operating as sweeper. Alternatively, if he judges that the European champions might go for three attackers, Brown may favour a conventional 4-4-2 formation.

"We've got to be adaptable," he said. "Playing three defenders has served us well, but Denmark are as near to the Netherlands as we'll get, and when we play the Dutch in the finals they'll have three up. You can't comfortably play a three-man defence against that."

While Brown is committed to giving half a game each to Leighton and Andy Goram, thus reflecting another area of uncertainty, Peter Schmeichel is expected to keep goal for a near-full strength Denmark side. The Laudrup brothers, the Japan-bound Michael, and Brian of Rangers, are in line to win their 87th and 62nd caps respectively.

The Scottish management remain unimpressed by suggestions that the Danes are weaker than when they won the trophy in 1992. Brown pointed out that Michael Laudrup missed their "wild card" triumph because of a feud with the coach, Richard Moller Nilsen, and believes they could do well in England.

"The Laudrups will be catered for," he said, as if arranging an underworld contract. "We're relishing the challenge - it'll be a rehearsal for how to play against excellence tucked in off the front players."

SCOTLAND: Leighton (Hibernian); McKimmie (Aberdeen), Hendry (Blackburn), Boyd, McKinlay (both Celtic); Burley (Chelsea), McCall (Rangers), McAllister (Leeds), Collins (Celtic); Spencer (Chelsea), Gallacher (Blackburn).

Alexis Sanchez has completed a £35m move to Arsenal, the club have confirmed
sportGunners complete £35m signing of Barcelona forward
Poor teachers should be fearful of not getting pay rises or losing their job if they fail to perform, Steve Fairclough, headteacher of Abbotsholme School, suggested
voicesChris Sloggett explains why it has become an impossible career path
world cup 2014
Popes current and former won't be watching the football together
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Celebrated children’s author Allan Ahlberg, best known for Each Peach Pear Plum
Wayne’s estate faces a claim for alleged copyright breaches
newsJohn Wayne's heirs duke it out with university over use of the late film star's nickname
Life and Style
It beggars belief: the homeless and hungry are weary, tortured, ghosts of people – with bodies contorted by imperceptible pain
lifeRough sleepers exist in every city. Hear the stories of those whose luck has run out
peopleIndian actress known as the 'Grand Old Lady of Bollywood' was 102
Arts and Entertainment
In a minor key: Keira Knightley in the lightweight 'Begin Again'
Mick Jagger performing at Glastonbury
Arts and Entertainment
Currently there is nothing to prevent all-male or all-female couples from competing against mixed sex partners at any of the country’s ballroom dancing events
Potential ban on same-sex partners in ballroom dancing competitions amounts to 'illegal discrimination'
Germany's Andre Greipel crosses the finish line to win the sixth stage of the Tour de France cycling race over 194 kilometers (120.5 miles) with start in Arras and finish in Reims, France
tour de franceGerman champion achieves sixth Tour stage win in Reims
Life and Style
beautyBelgian fan lands L'Oreal campaign after being spotted at World Cup
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily World Cup Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Business Analyst Consultant (Financial Services)

£60000 - £75000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Business Analyst Consultant (Fina...

Systems Administrator - Linux / Unix / Windows / TCP/IP / SAN

£60000 per annum: Harrington Starr: A leading provider in investment managemen...

AVS, JVS Openlink Endur Developer

£600 - £700 per day: Harrington Starr: AVS, JVS Openlink Endur Developer JVS, ...

E-Commerce Developer

£45000 - £60000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: Exciting opp...

Day In a Page

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

A writer spends a night on the streets

Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

UK's railways are entering a new golden age

New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
10 best women's sunglasses

In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice
Hollywood targets Asian audiences as US films enjoy record-breaking run at Chinese box office

Hollywood targets Asian audiences

The world's second biggest movie market is fast becoming the Hollywood studios' most crucial