Scotland: Senior players should have belief to qualify for Euros - Willie Miller

By Phil GoodladBBC Scotland
Charlie Mulgrew celebrates Scotland's 1-0 victory over Slovakia in their last World Cup qualifying campaign
Charlie Mulgrew, who will lead the side on Friday, has won 32 caps for Scotland since 2012
International friendly: Scotland v Costa Rica
Venue: Hampden Park, Glasgow Date: Friday, 23 March Kick-off: 19:45 GMT
Coverage: Live commentary on BBC Radio Scotland, text commentary on BBC Sport website & app

Scotland's senior players should have the belief required to end the country's 20-year absence from major tournaments, believes Willie Miller.

Manager Alex McLeish, back in the role for a second spell, wants his players to show "swagger" when they face Costa Rica on Friday and Hungary on Tuesday.

Miller, his old centre-back ally with Aberdeen and Scotland, says self-belief is a pre-requisite in an international.

"These players should have it," Miller, who won 65 caps, told BBC Scotland.

"OK, there are quite a number of young players getting an opportunity over the next couple of games, but the senior ones should have it.

"It's about building up that experience and that belief over a period of time. That takes time but if you're a senior international player you have got to have that belief. If you don't have it, then you've got a problem."

Scotland have lost former captain Scott Brown to international retirement and experienced Celtic duo Craig Gordon and Leigh Griffiths - plus Rangers centre-back Russell Martin - to injury, while McLeish has opted not to select the likes of Darren Fletcher (34, 80 caps) or Christophe Berra (33, 41 caps) for these two friendlies.

There are nine uncapped players in the squad who could feature at various points over the next five days, with 36-year-old goalkeeper Allan McGregor and new captain Charlie Mulgrew, 32, expected to guide the youngsters.

"I brought Charlie back up to Aberdeen from Southend [in 2008], I know him quite well," Miller said.

"He is a senior player, he is a very good player and he is respected. I am sure he will make a good captain."

Among the new generation who may pull on a Scotland shirt for the first time are Manchester United midfielder Scott McTominay, Aberdeen defender Scott McKenna and in-form Barnsley striker Oli McBurnie, all 21.

Alex McLeish (left) fouls Northern Ireland's Sammy McIlroy as Willie Miller (right) looks on during a World cup qualifier in 1981
McLeish (second left) and Miller (right) were centre-back partners for Scotland during the 1980s

"It is all about having belief, both in the team and in yourself as an individual, and not being intimidated by the opposition, if that opposition is a large country that normally qualifies for major championships," Miller added.

"In saying that, our problem hasn't been against those type of nations, it has been against smaller nations - the Lithuanias of this world.

"I think what Alex [McLeish] is trying to get over is he wants his team to go out and believe they can qualify for a major championships again.

"If you don't have it, you don't qualify, it is as simple as that. That is where we are just now. It has been a couple of decades and it really isn't good enough, particularly with the amount of teams that compete in the Euros now.

"When I played, there were eight teams in the finals. What is it now - 24? It is pretty incredible if we can't qualify with that number."

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