Alex McLeish: Scotland players will be 'wrapped in cotton wool' for Israel test

Scotland head coach Alex McLeish celebrates with Andrew Robertson and Callum McGregor
Alex McLeish feels he is only just starting his tenure as Scotland head coach
Nations League: Scotland v Israel
Venue: Hampden Park, Date: Tuesday, 20 November Kick-off: 19:45 BST
Coverage: Listen live on Radio Scotland & online; text commentary on BBC Sport website & app

Scotland boss Alex McLeish says he will have his players "wrapped in cotton wool" to prevent further injuries before they host Israel.

Nine players withdrew from his squad in the build-up to Saturday's 4-0 Nations League victory in Albania.

That result means Scotland can still make the play-offs and move up to League B with another win on Tuesday.

"One or two guys have tightness. Let's hope it wears off and doesn't rule them out," said McLeish.

"The guys are now in recovery mode."

Ending a run of three consecutive away defeats ensured Scotland cannot be relegated to League D from their three-team group.

But McLeish, who has won three of his nine matches since taking charge of the national team for a second time in February, insists he did not feel under pressure.

After what he described as a "magnificent" display in Shkoder against a side who were reduced to 10 men in the 21st minute, McLeish said: "I'm only just starting the job.

"That's three competitive games we've played and it really feels like a start. We've played a lot of friendly games, taken on some toughies, but we're not shouting about anything yet."

Having beaten Scotland in the reverse fixture, Israel only need a point at Hampden to top the group and win promotion.

"We know we have a very hard game against a team that's been in good form recently," McLeish said.

"We had a lot of call-offs. We called John Fleck in as you know and we will get these guys wrapped in cotton wool for Tuesday."

McLeish praise for goalscorers

Ryan Fraser and Ryan Christie celebrate against Albania
McLeish was delighted for Ryan Fraser (left) after his first Scotland goal

On Saturday, Ryan Fraser put McLeish's side ahead with his first international goal before Mergim Mavraj was sent off for the hosts.

James Forrest then scored his first two Scotland goals, while Steven Fletcher slotted in a penalty on his return to the side.

"Ryan Fraser has been playing very high level at Bournemouth since the start of the season, but we've not been able to get him in the team for the qualification games," McLeish said.

"Tonight, we got Ryan in and you see what he's been doing the whole season.

"James has continued his great form. In the second half, he was fantastic.

"We knew watching the game that Steven Fletcher has been managing his body for the past few months having been out for a few months and he was a greater leader of the line for us."

After a victory he believes will inject "confidence and belief" into his players, McLeish added: "We have set ourselves up, and Israel have set themselves up, so it should be a good game.

"We've got them on home soil. Let's hope there is a great response from the Tartan Army - we'd love to see them come and cheer the guys to victory.

"If we play at that level, we have a good chance."

Scotland group: 1st Israel, 2nd Scotland, 3rd Albania


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