Scotland: Mark McGhee confident in squad ahead of World Cup qualifier

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Interview: Scotland assistant manager Mark McGhee

World Cup qualifying Group A: Croatia v Scotland

Venue:
Stadion Maksimir, Zagreb
Date:
Friday, 7 June
Kick-off:
19:15 BST
Coverage:
Watch on BBC Two Scotland; listen on BBC Radio Scotland; live text commentary on BBC Sport website

Scotland assistant manager Mark McGhee insists there is everything for Gordon Strachan's young squad to play for against Croatia on Friday.

Croatia top World Cup qualifying Group A with Belgium, while the Scots are bottom without a win.

"I think their position makes them formidable, but I wouldn't say we have nothing to lose," said McGhee.

"Some players have a chance to prove to the manager that in future squads they should be part of it."

Scotland can no longer qualify for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, but McGhee believes it is important for Strachan's squad to develop while establishing a respectable position in the group.

With only two points from six matches played so far in the campaign, McGhee dismissed suggestions that the current squad lacks experience and insisted the match against Croatia represents an opportunity for players to cement their position in a Scotland jersey for the long-term.

"There's a lot to play for," said McGhee. "So, if nothing else, these guys have a lot to lose.

"They have an opportunity to prove they should be here and stamp that for the future.

"I think we'll try and make sure that they're not naive and they know fully what is ahead and the difficulty of the match that the opposition will give us, but I don't think we would swap experience for inexperience.

"We would much rather be here with our most experienced team in our most important World Cup game. but we have to accentuate the positives which are that young players do bring that enthusiasm and energy.

"We'll pick a team and a system that will give the Croats as much difficulty as we can. I think if England or Brazil went to Croatia in a World Cup game away from home in Zagreb and got a draw, they would consider it a positive result, so we have to think that way."

McGhee also said the coaching staff had been given some insight into which players would start the match, but that the team has not been named as yet.

"He (Strachan) hasn't voiced it to us and the squad," said McGhee. "But you pick things out of it in training, in his thoughts about who will start and who he is thinking about."

In the past week, reports have credited some Croatia players as suggesting that Scotland will suffer a heavy defeat on Friday, but McGhee believes the view has changed in recent days as the game draws closer.

"I think they've backpedalled a bit on that," said McGhee. "They're now looking on the internet at things they're saying - and they intend to give us all the respect we deserve.

"They've never beaten us, on a few occasions we've drawn with them. They know we're going to be difficult opposition and we have a travelling support that will demand a performance from us."

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