Levein has confidence in depleted squad as match against US looms

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Scotland manager Craig Levein has every faith in his players to return home with a positive result against the United States – despite being without 11 players for the match.

Injury, illness and family reasons have all contributed to Levein making the trip to Florida without almost a dozen players who could have been in contention for the friendly.

But the fact he has been able to name a strong 22-man squad for the clash in Jacksonville, which takes place in the early hours of Sunday morning UK time, fills the Scotland boss with optimism for the future.

“I’ve got 11 players who aren’t here and they are guys who have been in starting positions,” Levein said. “Six of them play in the Premier League. Those players haven’t made it here for loads of different reasons.

“I look at that and I look at the group that we’ve got here and I feel that we are quite strong. I don’t think we have been in this position for a while.” The latest FIFA rankings show the hosts to be rated as 29th in the world, while the Scots trail behind in 48th spot.

Levein added: “This will be a tough match. They are well above us in the rankings, they are an experienced team and they’ve got all their best players here and they are preparing for qualifiers. Barry Bannan suffered a slight knock in training earlier in the week but is expected to be fit for the match.

Shaun Maloney will earn his first cap since November 2010, while Matt Phillips will make his international debut after being forced to pull out of the friendly against Slovenia in February through injury.