Slovakia will play for draw against Scotland, says Willie Miller

Scotland players
Scotland have two games to seal a possible World Cup play-off place
World Cup qualifying: Scotland v Slovakia
Venue: Hampden Park Date: Thursday, 5 October Kick-off: 19:45 BST
Coverage: Listen on BBC Radio Scotland; live text commentary on the BBC Sport website

Former Scotland defender Willie Miller has warned the current team to expect a Slovakia side playing for a draw in Thursday's World Cup qualifier.

In their penultimate Group F fixture, the Scots need to beat the side currently occupying second place and a potential play-off berth.

Scotland play Slovenia away on Sunday, when Slovakia are at home to Malta.

"They'll want a draw, I've no doubt about it that they'll play for a draw," said Miller.

"We've got ourselves into a position of hope, but the hope rests on us winning the game.

"When they get the ball, they'll hold on to it and they'll try to frustrate and turn the fans against Scotland.

"It's up to the players to go out and try to dominate the game early."

Slovakia, ranked 19th in the world, rely on Marek Hamsik for creativity and the Napoli midfielder will celebrate his 100th cap at Hampden.

The visitors have included just one striker, Adam Nemec, in their squad.

Scotland coach Gordon Strachan must decide who to field in place of Celtic midfield duo Stuart Armstrong and Scott Brown, who have started the past four group matches together but are unavailable through injury.

Experienced former captain Darren Fletcher is an option, along with Hibernian's John McGinn.

Celtic's Callum McGregor was a late call up and Strachan has praised the recent performances of Sheffield Wednesday's Barry Bannan, who has 24 Scotland caps but has not played in the qualifying campaign since the 3-0 loss in Slovakia last October.

'McGinn is a great young prospect'

Former Scotland skipper Barry Ferguson would like to see Strachan turn to in-form McGinn and McGregor, who each scored twice in Saturday's 2-2 draw between Celtic and Hibernian.

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Scottish Premiership highlights: Celtic 2-2 Hibernian

"Take one game at a time and let's deal with Slovakia," said Ferguson. "They're a decent team but I do think we will beat them.

"The one that worries me is Slovenia on Sunday. I just want to take care of Thursday and get the three points and hopefully we'll do that.

"Scott Brown and Armstrong are big, big players but I still think we've got players that can come in easily and replace them.

"I would play McGregor and McGinn. McGinn is a great young prospect - showed that he could do it on the big stage on Saturday, scoring two goals. McGregor, I've been surprised he's not been in the squad. Why not throw two of them in?

"[McGregor's] played in big pressurised games for Celtic, Champions League. He's under pressure every single week."

In the previous two World Cup qualifiers, the 3-0 win in Lithuania and the 2-0 home triumph against Malta, Strachan fielded an all left-sided back four.

Celtic left-back Kieran Tierney played at right-back with Liverpool full-back Andrew Robertson on the other side and Hearts' Christophe Berra partnering Blackburn Rovers' Charlie Mulgrew at centre-half.

Slovakia beat Scotland 3-0 when the sides met a year ago.

And Miller added before Thursday's match: "There's a big responsibility on the two centre-backs because they are going to have to make sure that it's fully concentrated and they don't give away the easy goals that they gave away over in Slovakia."

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