Hearts keeper Jon McLaughlin to start against Mexico

Jon McLaughlin
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Alex McLeish has defended his plan to hand two different goalkeepers their debut against Mexico in the intimidating surrounding of Estadio Azteca.

The manager confirmed Scotland will play with a different goalkeeper in each half of the friendly, which kicks-off in the early hours of Sunday morning.

Hearts’ Jon McLaughlin is set to start with Scott Bain of Celtic replacing him at half-time. McLeish explained he had little option but to hand debuts to not one but two goalkeepers in the clash, which is a 72,000 sell-out. He promised to give every travelling player some game-time on this Americas tour.

Millwall No.1 Jordan Archer, who endured a difficult debut in the 2-0 defeat by Peru earlier this week, is being rested.

“Who else can play?” asked McLeish. “They’re the only goalkeepers who are here! Listen, it’s their first game so they will feel a bit of an adrenaline rush and it will be up to them.

“This is the first time any of the goalkeepers have played for their countries and we all saw the Champions League last weekend, when a goalkeeper makes a mistake it’s invariably a goal. But it’s an amazing place to make your Scotland debut.”

McLeish concedes Scotland face a huge challenge due to a combination of factors, including heat, high altitude and limited personnel options.

“We’re playing with a team that is not the strongest team that Scotland have ever put out,” he said.

The venue for tomorrow morning’s game is of course where Diego Maradona famously used the “hand of God” to score against England for Argentina in a World Cup quarter-final in 1986. The Mexican Football Federation (FMF) were desperate to have Video Assistant Referees (VAR) in full use against Scotland prior to the World Cup finals in Russia later this month.

The Scottish Football Association granted the FMF’s request for permission but the Costa Rican match officials are understood to have vetoed the plans.

While the system will be still in operation at Estadio Azteca, it will be in off-line mode meaning there will be no disruptions to the game.

McLeish had hoped Scotland would reap the benefit of breaks in the play in what are expected to be searing conditions. The Scottish players will already have to cope with the high altitude factor. Estadio Azteca is 7,200 feet above sea level and the Scotland squad only arrived in the city last night in an attempt to combat the effects.