Expanded World Cup receives Scotland assistant Mark McGhee's approval

By Clive LindsayBBC Sport Scotland
McGhee in favour of larger World Cup
World Cup qualifying Group F: Scotland v Lithuania
Venue: Hampden Park, Glasgow Date: Saturday, 8 October Kick-off: 19:45 BST
Coverage: Live on BBC Radio Scotland, BBC Radio 5 live, BBC Sport website & app

Mark McGhee would be in favour of an expanded World Cup finals if it is easier for Scotland to qualify.

The Scotland assistant was responding to an idea put forward by Fifa president Gianni Infantino to expand the finals from 32 to 48 teams.

"I'd be a fan of any format that gets us to a World Cup," said McGhee.

"The format this time round is pretty difficult and it was shown in the Euros that teams like Iceland can make a fantastic contribution."

Europe will be represented at the 2018 World Cup finals by hosts Russia, the winners of nine qualifying groups and the winners of four play-offs involving the eight best group runners-up.

But Infantino has suggested that more teams could be allowed to qualify in future finals, with 32 teams playing in a preliminary knockout round and the winners progressing to the initial group stage as it is now.

McGhee praised this year's expanded European Championship finals and the role played by smaller nations like Wales, who reached the semi-finals.

"Not just the teams but the supporters of these teams made it a spectacle," he said.

"I know the Tartan Army would anyway and, if there is a route to make it more manageable to get there, I am up for that."

Fifa president Gianni Infantino
Fifa will consider Gianni Infantino's idea for an expanded World Cup in January

Scotland host Lithuania on Saturday in their second Group F qualifier and McGhee expects the visitors to be a bigger attacking threat than Malta, who his side beat 5-1 away in the opening game.

"Their style is such that I don't think they are a team that are going to come and just sit in against us," he said of the side who have former Hearts striker Edgaras Jankauskas as head coach.

"They are quite prepared to come and get at us a little bit, so I think it is a game that will be a little bit more end-to-end.

"I don't think it will be a game where we are playing possession football at the edge of their box.

"I expect it to be an exciting game. It is going to be much more of a British-style game than many of these games are."

Scotland have faced Lithuania eight times, losing only once and drawing three times.

However, McGhee said: "I think, if we are favourites, it is only because we are at home.

"We've still got to prove that we are better than them.

"We've got to prepare as if this is going to be the hardest game in the entire section."