Scotland assistant manager Peter Houston has backed Kenny Miller to bounce back from his Carling Cup final misery and continue being an integral part of the national team during the 2014 World Cup campaign.
The former Rangers and Celtic striker missed a good chance to win the cup for Malky Mackay’s Cardiff in the 88th minute before hitting the post with his penalty in the shootout defeat by Liverpool.
But the 32-year-old remained eager to join up with Scotland the day after the Wembley defeat along with team-mate Don Cowie.
Houston admired Miller’s enthusiasm ahead of tomorrow’s friendly in Slovenia and believes the forward is improving with age without losing his fitness.
Houston said: “The heartening thing was hearing that Kenny and Don were both desperately keen still to come.
“The way he was running about yesterday, he was doing all the running.
“He was dropping into midfield, that tells you a lot about him.
“You look at his fitness levels and the amount of running he does during the course of a game.
“He has played many times as a lone striker for Scotland and everyone has complimented him on his workrate. He’s a genuinely fit guy and he hasn’t any excess weight. He looks after himself and is a credit to himself.
“I see Kenny Miller still being a massive part of the Scotland set-up.
“I also think he has become a better player as he has got older as well.
“When he was younger he was full of energy and pace. He has learned the game more and got wiser – some of the runs he makes are very intelligent runs off the ball, creating space.”
Miller has scored 16 goals for Scotland – only five players have netted more – and Houston defended him over the Wembley miss.
“You look at the chance he had, I know he has missed, but he has run across the 18-yard line to get away from people, his first touch was great at that stage of the game,” Houston said.
“The boy did magnificently well to put in a challenge which I think caught his eye and he didn’t quite hit the target.
“He struck it well enough, no doubt he will be gutted.”
Meanwhile, Houston believes Slovenia will be solid but not impenetrable tomorrow night.
“They are organised,” the Dundee United boss said.
“They are solid enough, play 4-4-2 most of the time with two sitting midfielders.
“We have watched DVDs and how we can maybe get in about them and cause them problems.”