GORDON STRACHAN is still confident of a World Cup double-header triumph, despite losing skipper Scott Brown and Stuart Armstrong to injury.
The Scotland boss believes their call-offs aren’t like losing a Messi or an Aguero!
As Strachan prepared for Thursday’s Hampden clash against Slovakia and Sunday’s meeting in Slovenia, he insisted: “I don’t think there is an inferiority complex with any of them because I don’t think we have any players who are that far ahead of the rest.
“It would be different if it was Messi. If you had to ask a player: ‘Do you want to step in for Messi?’, they would say: ‘No, I don’t want to step in for Messi!’
“‘What about Aguero?’
“’No, I don’t want to do that, either. I’d rather just sit on the bench and watch this.’
“But that’s not the position we are in.
“If you spoke to some of the players after the games we’ve played recently and said: ‘Do you think you would have made the team better?’, they would have gone: ‘Aye.’”
The Scots supremo admitted he was not cursing his own misfortune when he saw Brown go down with a damaged hamstring during Celtic’s Champions League win at Anderlecht last week.
He said: “I saw it. My initial thought? No, I wasn’t cursing my luck. I was all right. I’m fine.
“I first saw him getting injured five minutes before he came off – and I thought it was good he came off because he was doing the right thing, catching it early. Initially, we thought it might be a bit of cramp.
“I then spoke to Scott on Friday and he told me exactly what it was.
“Stuart also got in touch, he tried to call and texted me, explaining about his injury and saying he wished he could be here.”
Looking at the Hampden game, Strachan added: “I have always thought it would be very difficult to beat them.
“I saw Slovakia at the European Championships last summer and they have four or five top players, backed by a team of good players.
“They have a small squad. It’s like a club side. And they get on with it. You can nearly pick their side, most of the time, one or two areas aside.
“But they made life difficult for England and they’ll make it hard for us.
“I think it will be a long night on Thursday. An interesting night. It might even be a nervous night.
“But, hopefully, at the end of the night, we will all go home happy.”
NEW CQN PODCAST FROM CELTIC PARK ON SATURDAY
Kevin Graham is back with a new CQN Podcast from Saturday. He talks to supporters on the bus on the way to Parkhead, interviews John Paul Taylor outside the ground and captures the atmosphere and action inside the ground before getting some more supporters’ views on the bus home after an eventful afternoon at Celtic Park.
Apologies for a few sweary words in this podcast near the end.