Scotland set to make changes against Germany

Gordon Strachan could shake up his Scotland team. Picture: Ian MacNicol Getty Images
Gordon Strachan could shake up his Scotland team. Picture: Ian MacNicol Getty Images
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Gordon Strachan will freshen up his Scotland side in an attempt to revive their Euro 2016 qualification hopes against Germany at Hampden tonight.

The national team suffered a damaging 1-0 defeat in Georgia on Friday night, leaving their hopes of a top-two finish in Group D hanging by a thread.

They now languish a point behind Ireland in the battle to qualify and Strachan admits they are likely to require at least a draw from this evening’s clash with the world champions as they bid to stay in contention going into next month’s games against Poland and Gibraltar.

Given the flatness of their performance in Tbilisi, and in light of the way Scotland toiled with their last double-header against Ireland and England in November, the manager is ready to inject some fresh blood.

In what would be a surprise move, he hinted that Chris Martin could be pitched into the lone-striker role, while James McArthur and James Forrest are also among those being considered for starts.

When asked by the written press about the public clamour for on-form Celtic striker Leigh Griffiths to replace Steven Fletcher in attack, Strachan, mindful of the physically-imposing nature of the Germans, indicated that Derby forward Martin would be more prominent in his thoughts if he decides to replace the Sunderland striker.

“They [the strikers] are all different,” he said. “You’re playing against real men, World Cup winners, Champions League players. Unfortunately our guys don’t play against that. Even our guys in England get very little of that, Steven Naismith’s team [Everton] is in the Europa League but he doesn’t get a game just now. The rest are not playing at Champions League level, Celtic lads are at qualifying level. It’s different. You have to look and say what is the best for the rest of the guys?

“How big are Germany? We need to have a certain amount of height in the team to combat corner kicks and free-kicks. I need some height to deal with this. Martin gives you an option. He has strength, he can stand in there and take the ball in. He can’t run about like other people but he has the strength to get the ball under control and bring people into the game. I think his goalscoring record is as good as anybody’s over the last two years. In a more competitive league [than Griffiths] as well.”

Strachan also moved to dismiss any suggestion that Scotland’s late return from Georgia would have an adverse effect tonight. The team’s overnight flight was delayed three hours, meaning the players didn’t get out of Glasgow Airport until 7am on Saturday. He insists none of his squad have complained about the upheaval and that the preparations haven’t been disrupted. “If they did [moan], and nobody did say that, I would have said we used to go from Aberdeen to Heathrow, to Schipol, to Bucharest,” referring to his own playing days. “You wouldn’t get home until Thursday, eight o’clock at night, sometimes you would go to the Excelsior [Hotel at Glasgow Airport] stay there and play Rangers or Celtic on the Saturday.

“We planned for four o’clock training [on Saturday], and analysis with the staff [Saturday] night, it has not put us out of kilter at all.”