World Cup: Brown favours the calm option

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The Independent Online
CRAIG BROWN, preparing for "the biggest game of my life" for the second time in a week, reacted philosophically yesterday to reports in the Brazilian media that Mario Zagallo plans to field a weakened side against Norway tomorrow.

The Scotland manager is in the peculiar position of knowing that a draw in their simultaneous Group A fixture, against Morocco in St Etienne, could take his team into the second phase for the first time. On the other hand, should Norway beat the world champions, a win will not. On learning that Brazil were considering resting seven first choices, Brown conceded: "I must admit I'd be tempted to do the same in their position.

"Mr Zagallo has had to concern himself with the next round. They're in it already, so he'll want to keep his players fresh. It's entirely up to him. Obviously, it's a problem for us, but we knew we ran that risk when the draw was made."

Brown suspected that Norway could shock Brazil simply because they were overdue a good performance. "They haven't played up to their capabilities yet," he said. "But the style of play they favour - the long, diagonal ball over the top of the full-backs - is ideally suited to damage the Brazilians."

Scotland's starting line-up in the Geoffroy Guichard stadium is likely to be the one which finished so strongly against Norway in Bordeaux. Brown will certainly retain Craig Burley, who equalised minutes after switching from wing-back, in the central midfield role he favours with Celtic.

The only selection quandaries concern whether to move Christian Dailly from the left flank to replace Burley and bring in Tosh McKinlay, or to leave the Derby player where he is and use Jackie McNamara on the right. At the back, where Colin Calderwood's injury has created a vacancy, Brown said it was "a toss-up" between David Weir and Matt Elliott.

Calderwood is back in the camp, albeit with a heavily bandaged hand. Professor Stewart Hillis, the team doctor, described the wiring holding together the Tottenham defender's hand as "like a Meccano set". Billy McKinlay, who had also been ruled out of the Morocco match, is now given a slight chance of recovering from his abdominal injury.

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