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Summary

  1. Build-up to Scotland's World Cup qualifier against Malta
  2. Lee Wallace pulls out of squad
  3. Scotland best as underdogs - Martin
  4. Scotland's U21s in action later

Live Reporting

By Keir Murray

All times stated are UK

Get involved

  1. Good night

    That's all from our live text coverage today. You can watch how Scotland's Under-21s get on against Macedonia at Tynecastle this evening by following the BBC Alba coverage (starting at 19:20 BST) or by listening to BBC Radio Scotland's Sportsound, both of which can be accessed here.

    All the best.

  2. LINE-UPS AT TYNECASTLE

    Scotland U21: Kelly, Smith, McGhee, Souttar, Kingsley, Christie, Gauld, Slater, Fraser, Henderson, Cummings. Subs: Hurst, McBurnie, Hyam, King, Nicholson, Cadden, O'Hara.

    Macedonia U21: Aleksovski, Bejtulai, Velkoski, Zajkov, Murati, Markoski, Nikolov, Bardhi, Demiri, Babunski, Radeski. Subs: Siskovski, Elmas, Musliu, Amanovic, Pivkovski, Kostadinov, Avramovski. 

    Referee: Sebastian Coltescu (Romania)

  3. Three Ryans in the shirt...

  4. Tune in to Sportsound

    Sportsound is under way on BBC Radio Scotland. There will be live coverage of Scotland's U21 game against Macedonia from Tynecastle.

    Listen in here.

  5. Malta v Scotland (Sun)

    In addition to Boavista's Andre Schembri, who features heavily in Liam's article, Malta's top goalscorer, Michael Mifsud, is still a key member of their squad after netting 40 international strikes. The 35-year-old forward now plays in his homeland after a well-travelled career that saw him ply his trade in Germany, Norway, Australia and England, where he turned out for Coventry and Barnsley. 

    One player currently playing in England is pacy left-winger Luke Gambin, who rejected a six-figure move from Barnet to League Two rivals Leyton Orient this week. The 5ft 6in player could cause problems with his composure on the ball.

    Malta's top goalscorer, Michael Mifsud
    Image caption: Malta's top goalscorer, Michael Mifsud
  6. No lighter way against Maltese

    Liam McLeod

    BBC Sport Scotland

    "Anything other than an away win is unthinkable against a side that has only ever won two World Cup qualifiers and only once since the two nations were last paired together for a place at the 1994 finals.

    "Since that campaign, the Maltese - who are at their lowest ever Fifa ranking of 176 - have finished bottom of their section in each of their 11 groups with just one victory all told in the last three years - against fellow Group F participants Lithuania.

    "They are also the only side to lose to Gibraltar at full international level."

    Read BBC Scotland commentator Liam McLeod's piece on Malta.

    Italy playmaker Andrea Pirlo and his Maltese marker Andre Schembri
    Image caption: Italy playmaker Andrea Pirlo and his Maltese marker Andre Schembri vie for possession
  7. No signing 'for the sake of it' at Celtic

    Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers has been telling Celtic TV about his wishlist ahead of the transfer deadline closing on Wednesday.

    "I wanted to bring another creative player into our midfield to support the players we had here but I'll never bring in anyone just for the sake of bringing in a player," he said.

    "It has to be the right type of player and profile otherwise you waste time, money and energy.

    "We brought in five players that can make a difference to the squad and can help the squad. We tried everything we could to get the right level of quality player in, but the players we wanted in just weren't available to get and you can't get a player if a club doesn't want to sell him or loan him.

    "But I'm more than happy with what we've got for now, the work we've done in this first window as a club has been very, very good and now gives us a chance to really focus and analyse on our recruitment with the recruitment team over the course of the coming months to maybe do something in January. 

    "But the players I have here - I'm absolutely delighted with their attitude and energy and they're only going to improve now as we progress over the next few months."

    Brendan Rodgers
    Image caption: Brendan Rodgers describes Celtic's new right-back Cristian Gamboa as "super fast" and "aggressive in defending"
  8. Two dozen of Scotland's finest

    With Lee Wallace pulling out of the squad, Scotland will have 24 players on the flight from Glasgow to Malta tomorrow morning. The Scots will train at the National Stadium on Saturday night.

    Have you had a go at our squad selector for the match yet?

  9. Learning from the Italian masters

    Malta's Italian manager Pietro Ghedin is in his second spell in charge of Malta, the first having come in the mid-1990s. The former Fiorentina and Lazio defender was a long-standing coach with the Italian national set-up before returning to Malta four years ago. The 63-year-old acted as assistant manager in several major tournaments, under Cesare Maldini, Dino Zoff and Giovanni Trapattoni.

    Malta manager Pietro Ghedin
    Image caption: Malta's Pietro Ghedin was also previously Italy's women's coach, guiding them to the Euro 2009 quarter-finals
  10. Could this happen in Scotland?

    This remarkable incident - a fan kissing Messi's boot - during Argentina's World Cup qualifier against Uruguay yesterday has us wondering if a similar scenario could ever be played out in Scotland.

    Which player would merit such...affection? And what would the player have to have done to merit such...an honour?

    A fan kisses Lionel Messi's boot during Argentina's 1-0 win over Uruguay in Mendoza yesterday
    Image caption: A fan kisses Lionel Messi's boot during Argentina's 1-0 win over Uruguay in Mendoza yesterday
  11. Wallace pulls out of Scotland squad

  12. Accies add goalkeeper Thomson to squad

  13. Get Involved

    Facebook comments

    Jonathan Sutherland's piece on Scottish defenders has drawn a few comments to note:

    Paddy McDaid: "Never mind Scottish defenders!! Where are all the great defenders. Defenders of genuine world class.....you would struggle to name a handful (and I'm referring to those who would stand up against the likes of Maldini, Baresi, Cannavaro, Desailly, Beckanbauer et al). In the EPL, you are really looking at Kompany (who struggles to kick a ball these days)." 

    Michael Caffrey on Dundee United defender Davd Narey: "Legend in every sense of the word. As an Arab I'm proud to be able to say that i was able to see him play in the famous Tangerine so many times and always a pleasure to watch. I salute u David Narey. Arabest" 

    Dundee United defender Dave Narey is closed down by Rangers midfielder Nigel Spackman
    Image caption: April 1991: Dundee United defender Dave Narey is closed down by Rangers midfielder Nigel Spackman
  14. Scotland, be warned

    Malta warmed up for Sunday's game with a 1-1 draw in Estonia this week. Other recent friendlies include a 2-1 defeat in Austria as part of the hosts' Euro 2016 preparations and a goalless draw with Moldova, and they beat Lithuania last year. 

    They finished bottom of their European Championship qualifying group with two points and are at their lowest ebb in the Fifa rankings at 176th. But some of their qualifying results show they will be no pushovers. Twice Italy needed a solitary Graziano Pelle goal to beat them, even when Malta were playing with 10 men for more than an hour in their home game. Italy only managed one shot on target in the first half in Florence. Malta also drew in Bulgaria, and Croatia only beat them 1-0 in the Ta'Qali Stadium when they needed to win to qualify.

    BBC Scotland commentator Liam McLeod's analysis of the Maltese opposition is coming soon...

    Italy's Graziano Pelle scores against Malta in Valletta in a Euro 2016 qualifier in October 2014
    Image caption: Italy's Graziano Pelle scores against Malta in Valletta in a Euro 2016 qualifier in October 2014
  15. Get Involved

    #bbcsportscot

  16. Malta's finest moments

    Scotland's World Cup qualifying hosts on Sunday are Malta, who are a lowly 176th on the Fifa rankings, one place below Tahiti.

    Malta finished bottom of their Euro 2016 qualifying group, with just two points from their 10 matches.

    However, spirits will be boosted by Wednesday's 1-1 friendly draw in Estonia and they have caused a few upsets over the years.

    Here's a look at their top five qualifying results:

    Malta 0-0 West Germany - 1984

    Portugal 2-2 Malta - 1987

    Malta 0-0 Czech Republic - 2000

    Malta 1-1 Croatia - 2005

    Malta 2-2 Turkey - 2007

    Malta's Ta'Qali stadium
    Image caption: The Ta'Qali national stadium in Malta
  17. Scotland U21s v Macedonia U21s (19:30 BST)

    Scotland meet Macedonia at Tynecastle tonight in an Under-21 qualifier for the 2017 European Championship.

    Ricky Sbragia's side sit fourth in Group 3, with eight points from six matches.

    The visitors are four points better off, having played one more game, while France lead the way from Iceland.

    The nine group winners will automatically progress to join hosts Poland in next year's finals while the four best runners-up will compete in play-offs to decide the final two entrants, so nothing less than a victory will do to keep alive faint hopes of qualification.

    BBC Radio Scotland will provide live commentary, with BBC ALBA also showing the game. Both broadcasts are available via the BBC Sport website.

    Read the latest from Scotland Under-21s head coach Ricky Sbragia.

    Scotland Under-21 players Ryan Gauld, Ryan Fraser, Dom Hyam and Ryan Christie
    Image caption: A trio of Ryans (Gauld, Fraser and Christie), plus Dom Hyam train as part of Scotland's Under-21 squad
  18. Scotland's opening-match fortunes

    Richard Wilson

    BBC Scotland

    The importance of Scotland making a positive start to the World Cup qualifying campaign in Malta on Sunday was emphasised during the Euro 2016 qualifiers, when Northern Ireland began with three straight wins on their way to winning Group F.

    Scotland’s recent record in the opening games of qualifying tournaments is not encouraging, though. Since they last reached the finals of a major competition – France 98 – Scotland have played in nine qualifying groups and won only two of their opening matches. 

    Here is the playing record and the results from Scotland's opening games:

    P 9  W 2  D 5  L 2  GF 10  GA 5

    September 1998 – Euro 2000 qualifying – Lithuania 0-0 Scotland

    September 2000 – World Cup 2002 qualifying – Latvia 0-1 Scotland

    September 2002 – Euro 2004 qualifying – Faroe Islands 2-2 Scotland

    September 2004 – World Cup 2006 qualifying – Scotland 0-0 Slovenia

    September 2006 – Euro 2008 qualifying – Scotland 6-0 Faroe Islands

    September 2008 – World Cup 2010 qualifying – Macedonia 1-0 Scotland

    September 2010 – Euro 2012 qualifying – Lithuania 0-0 Scotland

    September 2012 – World Cup 2014 qualifying – Scotland 0-0 Serbia

    September 2014 – Euro 2016 qualifying – Germany 2-1 Scotland

    The Tartan Army will be in Malta demanding three points to set the team on the right path to Russia in 2018
    Image caption: The Tartan Army will be in Malta demanding three points to set the team on the right path to Russia in 2018
  19. Under the radar...

    Defender Russell Martin prefers Scotland being the underdogs in Group F.

    "People don't expect us to be there, but we're better like that, when people don't expect it," he said.

    "It's a group where people will take points off each other, so I don't think there will be one runaway leader.

    "People will say England are expected [to win the group] because they've been so strong in qualifying over the last few years, but it's a strong group.

    "We need to pick up points consistently. It'll be tough, but we just need to make sure that we're in and about it and in 18 months time in with a chance of doing it."

    Scotland's World Cup qualifiers

    4 Sep 2016: Away Malta

    8 Oct '16: Home Lithuania  

    11 Oct '16: Away Slovakia  

    11 Nov '16: Away England  

    26 Mar '17: Home Slovenia  

    10 Jun '17: Home England

    1 Sep '17: Away Lithuania

    4 Sep '17: Home Malta

    5 Oct '17: Home Slovakia

    8 Oct '17: Away Slovenia

    Russell Martin in action against France's Anthony Martial
    Image caption: Russell Martin in action against France's Anthony Martial in June
  20. Scotland's Game part three preview