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World Cup 2018: Scotland v Slovenia


Scott Brown is set to return in midfield while Jordan Rhodes is vying for a striking role
World Cup qualifier: Scotland v Slovenia
Date: Sunday, 26 March Venue: Hampden Park, Glasgow Kick-off: 19:45 BST
Coverage: Listen on BBC Radio Scotland 810MW/DAB/online; live text commentary on BBC Sport website

Celtic striker Leigh Griffiths will lead the line for Scotland against Slovenia on Sunday night and his club-mate Kieran Tierney will start at right-back, BBC Scotland has learned.

The duo are among a host of Celtic players who were rested for the 1-1 friendly draw with Canada.

Craig Gordon, Scott Brown, James Forrest and Stuart Armstrong are also pushing to be involved.

Fiorentina’s Josip Ilicic is available to the visitors after injury.

Midfielder Armstrong could make his Scotland debut.

Griffiths has jumped ahead of Jordan Rhodes, Chris Martin, Steven Fletcher and Steven Naismith to secure the starting slot.

Gordon is likely to replace Allan McGregor in goal, having started the last World Cup qualifier, the 3-0 defeat by England in November.

Norwich City defender Russell Martin could return at centre-back, while Derby County winger Ikechi Anya played at right-back against Canada in the absence of any recognised specialists in the squad.

“Wasn’t he good against England and the game the other night?” Strachan said of Anya while stressing that he may pick someone else given the opposition.

“He was full of enthusiasm and excited the crowd when he came forward.

Fiorentina’s Josip Ilicic has recovered from an injury scare for Slovenia

“But we have other options. I picked Kech against England for certain reasons, so you have to look at the opposition and look at see what the best side is for that game.

“There are positions that you have to think more of, but that’s all done now. I know my team and everybody is clear on what should happen.”

With Tierney in at right back, Hull City’s Andrew Robertson is likely to replace Lee Wallace at left-back, while Strachan also has a host of options in midfield.

Brown is likely to return, with James Morrison, Darren Fletcher and newcomers Tom Cairney and Armstrong offering options alongside the Celtic captain.

Robert Snodgrass, Matt Ritchie and Forrest are in contention to start in wider roles.

Bournemouth winger Ryan Fraser was in line to play against Canada, but a knee problem prevented his involvement, with Morrison also missing out through injury.

Rangers left-back Lee Wallace and Bournemouth winger Ryan Fraser both sat out Saturday’s training

Scotland are four points adrift of Slovenia, the visitors lying second behind leaders England – who host Lithuania on Sunday – in World Cup qualifying Group F.

Slovenia passed up on the opportunity to have a midweek warm-up friendly, but they are unbeaten in seven games since a friendly defeat by Turkey last May and beat Finland in their last outing in January.

Strachan’s side, who are 16 places below Slovenia in the world rankings in 67th place, have gone four games without a win, with Malta the only side they have beaten in their last seven outings, and Malta and Gibraltar their only victims in their last 10 qualifiers for a major championship.

However, victory would keep alive their hopes of a play-off spot as one of the eight best group runners-up.

The Slovenia squad includes Hearts right-back Andraz Struna, Atletico Madrid goalkeeper Jan Oblak and Bayer Leverkusen midfielder Kevin Kampl.

“We will have to combat the strength and ability of Slovenia, because they are a right good side,” Strachan added. “They have shown that over the campaign so far.

“They will be bigger than us, but the most important thing for us to nullify that is attack the other way and make sure most of the action is down the other end.

“If we can get it together then we will be fine. We can compete with most teams.”

Scotland squad

Goalkeepers: Craig Gordon (Celtic), Jack Hamilton (Hearts), Allan McGregor (Cardiff City, on loan from Hull City)

Defenders: Ikechi Anya (Derby County), Christophe Berra (Ipswich Town), Liam Cooper (Leeds), Charlie Mulgrew (Blackburn Rovers), Russell Martin (Norwich City), Andy Robertson (Hull City), Kieran Tierney (Celtic), Lee Wallace (Rangers)

Midfielders: Stuart Armstrong (Celtic), Barry Bannan (Sheffield Wednesday), Scott Brown (Celtic), Oliver Burke (Leipzig), Tom Cairney (Fulham), Darren Fletcher (West Brom), James Forrest (Celtic), Ryan Fraser (Bournemouth), John McGinn (Hibernian), James Morrison (West Brom), Matt Ritchie (Newcastle United), Robert Snodgrass (West Ham United)

Forwards: Steven Fletcher (Sheffield Wednesday), Leigh Griffiths (Celtic), Steven Naismith (Norwich City), Chris Martin (Fulham, on loan from Derby County), Jordan Rhodes (Sheffield Wednesday, on loan from Middlesbrough)

Slovenia squad

Goalkeepers: Jan Oblak (Atletico Madrid), Vid Belec (Carpi), Jan Koprivec (Anorthosis Famagusta)

Defenders: Bostjan Cesar (Chievo), Bojan Jokic (Ufa), Andraz Struna (Hearts), Miral Samardzic (Akhisar Belediyespor), Aljaz Struna (Carpi), Miha Mevlja (Rostov), Luka Krajnc (Frosinone), Matija Sirok (Slovenia Domzale)

Midfielders: Valter Birsa (Chievo), Josip Ilicic (Fiorentina), Jasmin Kurtic (Atalanta), Rene Krhin (Granada), Kevin Kampl (Bayer Leverkusen), Benjamin Verbic (Copenhagen), Nik Omladic (Eintracht Braunschweig), Miha Zajc (Empoli), Matic Crnic (Rijeka), Zan Majer (Domzale)

Forwards: Milivoje Novakovic (Maribor), Roman Bezjak (Rijeka), Robert Beric (Saint-Etienne)



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