Scotland boss Gordon Strachan has given his squad a clean bill of health ahead of next weekend’s crucial Euro 2016 qualifying match against the Republic of Ireland after watching them claim a narrow win against Qatar.
But Strachan admitted his heart was in his mouth as he saw Everton frontman Steven Naismith crash to the turf at Easter Road after colliding with goalkeeper Lecomte Amine early in the second half.
Naismith needed several minutes of treatment before resuming only to be replaced by Leigh Griffiths seven minutes later. However, while revealing his concern at the time, Strachan said: “Naisy is a hardy character and I always felt that unless something strange had happened he would get back up.”
Likewise Strachan believes Steven Fletcher and Andrew Robertson, who had suffered knocks in training, will be fit for Dublin, the pair taking a seat on the bench last night without becoming involved in the action.
He said: “They felt fine, they got to the ground and felt that they could play but it was our decision not to play them.”
Scotland won the game thanks to Matt Ritchie’s first strike for his country, the Bournemouth star later revealing he’d be honeymooning in Edinburgh for the next couple of days having married his wife Emma, who’d travelled to the Capital to watch him play, at the weekend.
The man of the match, who will be playing Premier League football in England next season, said: “It’s been a great week, a great year. I got married on Saturday and this tops the week off for me, scoring for my country is a great honour.”
Last night’s match was, of course designed to bring Strachan’s players up to speed, a number of them having not played since the beginning of last month and with that in mind he was delighted with what he had seen.
He said: “At times I liked a lot of it, at times you could see one or two were rusty having not had games. I’ve got to try to get them up to speed.
“I liked what I saw, we made a lot of chances. Obviously we had a very small forward line so we had to try and work our way into the box rather than cross, any cross had to be behind them.
“We worked away at it, as I said, we were a bit rusty at time but some of the moves were good.
I was pleased with a lot of the lads tonight.”
And although Qatar are ranked 97th in the world, Strachan pointed out: “They have beat Slovenia, Algeria and drawn with Northern Ireland and for us to make chances we are very pleased.
“You have to remember we trained twice yesterday, we had to try to bring us up to speed. Normally for an international game you would never think of training twice, the first one was very intense in the morning and we had things to do in the afternoon.
“It was intense for the defenders for the attackers it wasn’t so bad so you have to take that into consideration, it had to be done.”
And although his side made a host of chances Strachan was happy they’d taken the one which maintained Scotland’s record of having never failed to score at Easter Road, stretching away back to a 5-1 win over Wales in 1888.