Scotland's late arrival in Albania 'madness' - Scott McDonald

Alex McLeish at Glasgow airport
Scotland head coach Alex McLeish has much to ponder after withdrawals
Nations League League C, Group 1: Albania v Scotland
Venue: Loro Borici Stadium, Shkoder Date: Saturday, 17 November Kick-off: 19:45 GMT
Coverage: Listen on BBC Radio Scotland; live text commentary on BBC Sport website

Scotland's arrival in Albania late on the night before their Nations League game has been branded "madness" by former Celtic striker Scott McDonald.

Alex McLeish and his squad flew in on Friday evening ahead of Saturday's 19:45 GMT kick-off.

McDonald said: "To get on an aeroplane less than 24 hours before a game is nonsense.

"Why have they travelled so late? You are giving players excuses before they've even started."

Scotland sit three points behind League C Group 1 leaders Israel with two games remaining and McDonald thinks they would have benefitted from visiting the Loro Borici Stadium in Shkoder to acclimatise.

"I liked it, doing a bit of shooting in a goal I am hoping to be scoring in and visualising," the former Australian international, 35, who also played for Motherwell, Middlesbrough and Dundee United, told BBC Scotland's Sportsound.

"Why have they not come over before today and trained at the ground and prepared and got the boys visualising where they will be playing?

"It is doing things professionally and that's the way it has always been done."

To make matters worse for McLeish's squad, their flight's arrival in Albania was delayed, but former Scotland striker Steven Thompson took a different view to McDonald.

"It is a two-and-a-half hour flight and the day before a game, you are doing very little," he said.

"You are running through shape, you are doing small boxes, you are doing a very light training session - that can happen anywhere.

"It wouldn't matter to me if I was doing that in a public park or if I was doing it in a stadium I am going to play in.

"It is not affecting how I play the next day."

'Fletcher has played at a high level his whole career'

Thompson believes Steven Fletcher, recalled to the squad after a 13-month absence, should start up front against Albania.

He said: "If you play a back four and you have five in the middle and it goes something like James Forrest, Callum McGregor sitting deep, Stuart Armstrong, maybe Ryan Christie and then Ryan Fraser. That, to me, is a midfield full of ambition, full of attacking options.

"The other issue is who is going to play up front. For me, it would be Steven Fletcher. He has been out of the international scene for a wee while, but he's been there, done it, he's played at a high level his whole career and he's an exceptionally gifted footballer."

McDonald added: "There is a case for Matt Phillips. There was a case for Callum Paterson possibly away from home in terms of pace and power, but he won't give you as much in terms of bringing other people into the game - that would be the one thing to worry about.

"But, if you were boxed in and were looking to stretch the game, someone like Paterson or Phillips would be ideal. However, with the five in behind, you need someone to bring them into the game and that is Fletcher for me."

Top Stories

Around Scottish sport