World Cup 2018: Gordon Strachan says Scotland do not fear anyone

Scotland head coach Gordon Strachan
Strachan acknowledges Scotland's next opponents Slovakia represent a "huge hurdle"

Scotland boss Gordon Strachan insists his side "fear no-one" as they target the "one big result" that can transform their World Cup qualifying prospects.

The Scots host Slovakia at Hampden Park on Thursday before travelling to face Slovenia next Sunday, knowing two wins would likely secure a play-off place.

"We know how hard it is going to be," Strachan told Football Focus.

"Slovakia are one of the powers now. But we think we are a power at this moment and don't fear playing anybody."

Scotland secured only four points from their first four Group F matches, but a 10-point haul from their last four games has left their destiny in their own hands. They sit fourth, six points behind leaders England, and know two wins will land second spot.

World Cup qualifying Group F

"We are on a smashing run, we feel good about ourselves, and I am excited about meeting up with the players, taking the team out there and seeing the reception we are going to get [against Slovakia]," Strachan said.

"But obviously in the back of my mind, I know we have to win the game of football.

"One big one can make a difference. We are looking now to Slovakia to be that one big result.

"We have dragged ourselves back into it, only because we all believe in each other. It is about the players. At international level, you are dependent on what is happening at club level.

"Obviously Celtic doing so well over the last year or so has helped us. That has been a bonus.

Matt Phillips in action for Scotland in their 3-0 win against Lithuania
West Brom's Matt Phillips has started Scotland's last two games, wins over Lithuania and Malta

"Matt Phillips has helped us no end. He has been injured and missed out on squads for the last year, and that has been a blow.

"But there are one or two things we could try over the last couple of games which we couldn't try before, because we didn't have the assets that we needed at that time. Now we have got more assets, and more options."

Strachan was speaking before Celtic duo Scott Brown and Stuart Armstrong were ruled out of the double-header, with hamstring and calf injuries respectively.

The head coach has 10 other midfielders in his remaining 24-man squad, and as of Friday, had no plans to call up any replacements.

Strachan hopes an expected capacity crowd at Hampden on Thursday can roar his side on to victory.

"We understand Slovakia is a huge hurdle, but we are working up to a fantastic night," he added. "We will have five million people wanting us to win, and 50,000 here wanting us to win.

"The coaching staff and players are desperate to win so we are looking forward to a great occasion.

"The great thing about being an international manager is you can make five million people happy. It is not so clever if you make them unhappy. But in saying that, the support all the way through has been phenomenal."

Revised Scotland squad for qualifiers against Slovakia and Slovenia:

Goalkeepers: Jordan Archer (Millwall), Craig Gordon (Celtic), Allan McGregor (Hull City)

Defenders: Ikechi Anya (Derby County), Christophe Berra (Heart of Midlothian), Grant Hanley (Norwich City), Liam Cooper (Leeds United), Charlie Mulgrew (Blackburn Rovers), Andrew Robertson (Liverpool), Kieran Tierney (Celtic), Steven Whittaker (Hibernian)

Midfielders: Barry Bannan (Sheffield Wednesday), Darren Fletcher (Stoke City), Ryan Fraser (Bournemouth), James Forrest (Celtic), James McArthur (Crystal Palace), John McGinn (Hibernian), Matt Phillips (West Bromwich Albion), James Morrison (West Bromich Albion), Matt Ritchie (Newcastle United), Robert Snodgrass (Aston Villa, on loan from West Ham United)

Forwards: Steven Fletcher (Sheffield Wednesday), Leigh Griffiths (Celtic), Chris Martin (Derby County)