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Serbia v Scotland World Cup qualifier to go ahead despite snow

Scotland's World Cup qualifier in snowy Serbia set to go ahead as Tartan Army dig in to help clear pitch

By
Stuart Fraser

PUBLISHED:

11:40 GMT, 26 March 2013

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UPDATED:

14:04 GMT, 26 March 2013

Scotland's World Cup qualifier against Serbia is set to go ahead, despite continuing heavy snowfall.

Gordon Strachan's side are due to play tonight in the city of Novi Sad, around an hour north west of the Scots' base in Belgrade, and work to clear the Karadjordje Stadium pitch is underway.

Digging in: Members of the Tartan Army help clear the pitch in Novi Sad

Digging in: Members of the Tartan Army help clear the pitch in Novi Sad

Helping hand: Scotland fan David Wildridge clears snow from the seats in the Karadjordje Stadium

Helping hand: Scotland fan David Wildridge clears snow from the seats in the Karadjordje Stadium

The Serbia FA and the Scottish FA are continuing to monitor the situation, the latter tweeting: 'Serbia v Scotland on as it stands. Serbia FA clearing pitch of snow.'

Around 1,200 members of the Tartan Army are expected to attend the match, which would be rescheduled for Wednesday if it was postponed tonight.

Snow: The scene outside the Scotland team hotel in Belgrade this morning

Snow: The scene outside the Scotland team hotel in Belgrade this morning

Wrapped up: Strachan tries to keep warm during Scotland's training session in Belgrade last night

Wrapped up: Strachan tries to keep warm during Scotland's training session in Belgrade last night

Scotland are currently bottom of Group A with two points from five games after losing 2-1 to Wales in the snow at Hampden on Friday.

With qualification hopes for the World Cup almost certainly over, Strachan is set make a number of changes to his team tonight against Serbia, who sit fourth with four points.

Warming up: Scotland trained at the Partizan Belgrade Academy ahead of tonight's match against Serbia

Warming up: Scotland trained at the Partizan Belgrade Academy ahead of tonight's match against Serbia

Defeat: Scotland lost out in the Glasgow snow on Friday night as they were beaten 2-1 by Wales

Defeat: Scotland lost out in the Glasgow snow on Friday night as they were beaten 2-1 by Wales

Luxembourg 1 Scotland 2: Red hot Jordan Rhodes

Luxembourg 1 Scotland 2: Red-hot Rhodes at the double as minnows nearly upset Tartan Army

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UPDATED:

21:49 GMT, 14 November 2012

Jordan Rhodes hit a first-half double as an attack-minded Scotland side began life after Craig Levein with a narrow friendly victory in Luxembourg.

Rhodes, who scored a hat-trick for Scotland Under-21s on his previous trip to the Stade Josy Barthel, headed home from close range on 10 minutes and then slotted a simple second.

However, Scotland failed to build on their lead and survived some nervous moments after Lars Gerson's well-placed free-kick brought Luxembourg back into the game 90 seconds after the break.

Doubling up: Jordan Rhodes struck twice to earn Scotland a narrow win

Doubling up: Jordan Rhodes struck twice to earn Scotland a narrow win

Both Scotland goals were followed by
cries of 'Are you watching Craig Levein' from the visiting support, who
vastly outnumbered the home fans in the attendance of 2,521.

Their mood was no doubt lifted by
caretaker manager Billy Stark's 4-4-2 formation with Kenny Miller
partnering Rhodes up front and Steven Naismith and debutant Andrew
Shinnie playing in advanced wide positions.

Levein, who paid the price for taking
two points from Scotland's first four World Cup qualifiers, had last
played two strikers from the start in a 2-1 win against Liechtenstein at
Hampden in September 2010.

Inverness midfielder Shinnie was the
only debutant in the starting line-up but there were rare starts for
Matt Gilks and Grant Hanley, while Charlie Mulgrew lined up in central
midfield.

Tucked home: Rhodes knocks in the second goal

Tucked home: Rhodes knocks in the second goal

Match Facts

Luxembourg: Joubert, Mutsch, Bukvic, Deville, Schnell, Janisch, Blaise, Gerson, Payal, Bettmer, Leweck.

Subs: Oberweis, Malget, Hoffmann, Peters, Da Mota Alves, Bensi, Laterza, Philipps, Jans, Turpel.

Goal: Gerson 47

Scotland: Gilks, Whittaker, Dixon, Berra, Hanley, Mulgrew, Fletcher, Shinnie, Naismith, Rhodes, Miller.

Subs: Samson, Webster, Barr, Davidson, Kelly, Griffiths, Bell.

Goals: Rhodes 11, 23

Referee: Cyrill Zimmermann (Switzerland)

The Celtic player saw a lot of the
ball in the opening stages as Scotland dominated possession on a pitch
that was already cutting up.

Rhodes had his first chance when
Luxembourg defender Guy Blaise missed his kick after Naismith had helped
the ball up the left, but the Blackburn striker was well wide as he
steered the ball past the onrushing goalkeeper.

However, Rhodes only had two minutes to wait for the opener after more poor defending.

Scotland worked the ball to Paul Dixon
on the left wing and he sent over an inviting cross which Ante Bukvic
turned against his own post. Rhodes was on hand to head the ball over
the line from close range.

Gilks made his first save in the 16th
minute after Naismith had lost right-back Tom Schnell at a short
free-kick. The defender sent over a deep cross that was met by Mario
Mutsch but the Blackpool goalkeeper got down to hold the header.

Mutsch soon fired wide from 22 yards after Scotland again found themselves a man short down their left.

Miller curled over after a Rhodes
lay-off before the Blackburn forward hit his second in the 23rd minute.
Shinnie collected Whittaker's cross from the right and hit the byline
before driving the ball towards goal.

His effort was blocked but fell for kindly for Rhodes who slipped the ball home with his left foot from six yards.

Rhodes to glory: The youngster is congratulated by his compatriots

Rhodes to glory: The youngster is congratulated by his compatriots

Miller was soon through on goal after a
series of short, sharp passes with Naismith but the flag was raised as
the striker shot straight at Jonathan Joubert.

Scotland continued to control
possession but they were almost caught out before the break when Mutsch
broke down the left and sent over a low cross to right-winger Charles
Leweck, whose drive was held by Gilks.

Kilmarnock midfielder Liam Kelly
replaced Mulgrew at half-time to make his debut but he soon gave away a
foul that allowed the hosts back into the game. The execution was superb
as Gerson curled his 25-yard free-kick into the top corner to leave
Gilks with no chance.

Scotland continued to dominate
possession but were making little headway with Naismith growing
frustrated at the number of fouls committed by the home defenders.

Scraped: Scotland only won by one goal against the minnow opposition

Scraped: Scotland only won by one goal against the minnow opposition

Leigh Griffiths became the third new cap in the 70th minute when he replaced Shinnie with Miller moving wide right.

Scotland soon had a let-off after a move broke down on the right with Whittaker out of position.

Hanley backed off after David Turpel
collected the ball and the Luxembourg forward turned and sent the ball
inside him and out to Mutsch.

The home captain's cross found Stefano
Bensi in a great position but Gilks did enough to unconvincingly palm
the header wide for a corner.

Battle: Charles Leweck (left) tries to keep up with Scotland's Paul Dixon.

Battle: Charles Leweck (left) tries to keep up with Scotland's Paul Dixon.

Before the match, Stark had signalled
his intention of making six substitutions but the game was in the
balance and Scotland's formation, now looking more like a 4-2-4, was
giving the hosts space to attack.

Rhodes thought he had his hat-trick as
he headed home Kelly's cross but the flag was immediately raised and
Bensi tested Gilks again with a 20-yard drive that the goalkeeper got
down well to hold.

Gilks then saved Turpel's header
before Murray Davidson won his first cap as the midfielder came on for
Rhodes to see help see out the match in injury-time.

Craig Levein to discover Scotland fate

Levein's future hangs in balance with SFA to make decision before Luxembourg friendly

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UPDATED:

22:30 GMT, 29 October 2012

Craig Levein's Scotland fate will be settled by the end of the week — as the SFA confront the possibility of being without a full-time national team manager for next month’s friendly with Luxembourg.

The squad for the November 14 game would have to be named next week, placing Levein in the potentially awkward situation of selecting players — and facing the media —while his position was still to be settled by the SFA board.

With that in mind, it is understood they will meet the Scotland boss within the next 72 hours.

Plenty to ponder: Craig Levein (right) has struggled as Scotland manager

Plenty to ponder: Craig Levein (right) has struggled as Scotland manager

Levein’s position was placed under review after a disastrous start to the World Cup qualifying campaign, with Scotland sitting bottom of Group A after four games.

Having already failed to qualify for the Euro 2012 finals, the reality of another campaign over before it has begun has turned many Tartan Army members against Levein.

Final straw Scotland lost to Belgium earlier this month

Final straw Scotland lost to Belgium earlier this month

But he will be given a chance to state his case before board members, who will then decide whether or not to strike a severance deal that could cost them 700,000 — just months after they passed up on a break clause that would have seen the manager leave without compensation.

Should Levein go, the SFA will have to appoint a caretaker boss for the undemanding meeting with Luxembourg.

Jock Stein remembered

The tearful night a giant died: Shock and sorrow after the passing of Jock Stein

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UPDATED:

23:07 GMT, 9 October 2012

'Every manager dies a little during a game. I’d rather die in a dug-out than moulder away in a director’s box.'

Jock Stein, speaking in 1978

From within Ninian Park, across the Welsh valleys and beyond, the news spread fast. There were no mobile phones and no internet connections, merely television bulletins and word of mouth. On a seismic night in Cardiff, Scotland’s national football team had taken a major step closer to qualifying for their fourth successive World Cup Finals.

Yet the celebrations did not last long. Like revellers being doused down by a water hose, the Tartan Army fell silent as the news passed along the line in dribs and drabs. Jock Stein, the colossus of a man who bestrode the Scottish football scene for the best part of three decades, was dead.

Around Scotland, from the highlands and islands to the sprawling conurbations of the central belt and southwards, small and large groups alike had gathered around analogue television sets. Stein’s injury-stricken Scotland needed a solitary point against an up and coming Welsh side, to reach their Holy Grail of a play-off spot against the winners of the Oceanic group.

When Wales struck an early lead, a nation’s faith was tested. The temperament of late substitute Davie Cooper, striking a critical penalty kick nine minutes from time, proved the answer to five million prayers. Stein, the modern day Midas of the Scottish game, had prevailed once more.

Poignant: Jock Stein sitting in command on the bench in Cardiff - shortly after the final whistle, he suffered a fatal heart attack

Poignant: Jock Stein sitting in command on the bench in Cardiff – shortly after the final whistle, he suffered a fatal heart attack

As the final minutes played out, a commotion commenced. Medics and bodies crowded around the Scotland manager just seconds after a rogue photographer had been man-handled from the same area, the final victim of Stein’s volcanic temper.

The tale of Scotland’s First Minister Alex Salmond, an avid supporter of the national team, echoes that of so many watching that evening.

‘I was sitting in my front room in Linlithgow and what I remember most was the complete contrast of emotions,’ he said. ‘I had been sitting there with my nose to the television revelling in the qualification for the play-off. At the final whistle, I got up to make a cup of tea as reports were coming over, in a slightly garbled manner, that Jock Stein had collapsed.

‘In truth, the initial reports didn’t especially convey the seriousness of it all.

‘It was unbelievable because Jock Stein was always like a rock. He was all pervasive in Scottish football and seemed almost indestructible.’

No one cared to believe, then, as he crumpled to the trackside watched by millions across the UK, that Scotland’s manager already had one foot in the grave.

In football, as in life, hindsight is the only perfect science. Scotland had lost to Wales in Glasgow earlier in the same qualifying campaign, a damaging 1-0 defeat to an Ian Rush goal, placing a manager unaccustomed to public criticism in an uncomfortable position.

Unchecked claims surfaced that the Scotland manager suffered a mild stroke after that game. What was never in doubt was that he was on medication to mediate the dangers of heart failure, yet had opted against taking his pills in the hours leading up to the Cardiff return; ostensibly, in order to remain focused and unencumbered by possible side effects.

Mentor: Stein stands with his No 2 Alex Ferguson before kick-off

Mentor: Stein stands with his No 2 Alex Ferguson before kick-off

Accounts vary on whether Stein was entirely himself in the approach to the Wales game.
Former Celtic manager Gordon Strachan played on the left of midfield that night, before being replaced by Cooper in Stein’s last major managerial decision.

‘Physically, he didn’t look so well,’ recalled Strachan on the 20th anniversary of Stein’s death in 2005. ‘I’d never seen him like that before.

‘He was a bit grey. I understand now, as a football manager, how you can go a bit that way. But he was perspiring.

‘He was a big man, I know that, but it was just a thought that went in and out of my head very quickly, “Jock’s no’ well today”, and I came back to that thought later when I sat down. “Aye, he wasnae well.”’

When an experienced Wales team, forged by Mike England, triumphed in Glasgow, the Scotland team found themselves being physically bullied. At Ninian Park, Stein was determined to avoid a similar fate.

Richard Gough was detailed to pay extra attention to the rumbustious Manchester United striker Mark Hughes. Roy Aitken and Alex McLeish also played, with Willie Miller sweeping behind. Within three minutes, McLeish was booked for his second clash with Hughes in a demonstration of the no-nonsense approach which would typify this turbo-charged encounter. Yet, in a bustling first half, the Scots could barely contain the Old Trafford striker and Hughes duly claimed his sixth goal on his 10th cap for his country in the 13th minute — Peter Nicholas out-muscling Aitken and Steve Nicol before his low cross was thumped into the net.

Stein had been hampered by the absence of Kenny Dalglish through injury, while midfield anchorman Graeme Souness and Liverpool defensive team-mate Alan Hansen were also missing. To compound the problems, goalkeeper Jim Leighton famously lost a contact lens in the first period and carried no spares with him. The matter proved a source of consternation to Alex Ferguson, Scotland’s assistant manager and Leighton’s club manager with Aberdeen. Later, Ferguson reported to having no idea that the taciturn Leighton even wore contacts.

‘At that stage, the players realised nothing,’ stated Maurice Malpas, at the time a young full-back with Dundee United. ‘To this day, I don’t know if he just forgot to bring a spare pair, but Alan Rough went on anyway. There was mayhem in the dressing room when this emerged, but in terms of big Jock there was no indication that he was poorly. To my recollection, he performed the half-time team talk for a start. But like all the players, I was engrossed in the game, that’s just what you do as a player.’

Later, Ferguson would describe some rare and highly unusual signs of confusion within Stein at the interval; the first true indication something might be going awry. In the past, Stein would have commanded his half-time dressing room like a prowling bear, urging, cajoling and rebuking the likes of Leighton for their lack of foresight. Not this time.

Grim news: Ferguson tells Scotland players of Stein's sudden death

Grim news: Ferguson tells Scotland players of Stein's sudden death

As the second half began, Wales remained comfortable. After an hour Stein acted decisively — introducing enigmatic Rangers winger Cooper for Strachan on the left flank.

Cooper effectively changed the game, injecting urgency, trickery and pace into Scotland’s attacking efforts. Suddenly, the Welsh looked vulnerable. In the 80th minute, a Nicol cross was nodded down by Graeme Sharp to David Speedie, whose attempt on goal was handled by Welsh defender David Phillips. It was, by any reckoning, a harsh award. No match, perhaps, for the Joe Jordan ‘handball’ which had robbed the Welsh in similar fashion in 1977, yet Dutch referee Johannes Keizer pointed immediately to the spot in any case.

Cooper’s composed and exemplary penalty, in the circumstances, prompted a volcanic eruption in the Scotland fans packed dangerously close together in terracing behind the goal.

In some respects, the goal served to increase and compound, rather than reduce, the tension. Ernie Walker went to the boardroom in search of alcoholic relief, only to be told firmly that the bar was closed until after the final whistle.

He and squad captain Souness were directed to another VIP room where the pouring of large gin and tonics was a shaky, nervy affair.

Back on the touchline, meanwhile, Stein was rising to his feet to remonstrate with a photographer.
‘There was a bit of a commotion, then it all calmed down again,’ Strachan recalled. ‘Then, next minute, there were a lot of people around.

‘I looked over and thought: “What’s going on here” And that was it. The words I remember are: “Jock’s no’ well. There’s something wrong with his heart.”’

Stein was captured on camera being carried down the wood-panelled, cramped tunnel by four uniformed policemen.

Jubilant, the players thronged back to the cramped dressing room of the old stadium to be met with the immediate sense of displacement. Something, they instinctively sensed, was wrong. Willie Miller was caught by ITV interviewer Martin Tyler in the tunnel, his facial expression visibly altering as the broadcaster confirmed the news of Stein’s collapse.

‘Bizarre is the only word to describe it really,’ recalled Malpas. ‘I was absolutely elated because, to all intents and purposes, we had qualified and, for me, it would be my first World Cup. But, right away, we sensed something wasn’t right.

Giant of the game: Stein

Giant of the game: Stein

‘The backroom staff would normally be there waiting to pat you on the back, but they had all disappeared. Someone, I think it was Alex Ferguson, came in to tell us Jock had suffered a heart attack and everything fell silent. I remember seeing Jimmy Steele, the masseur, who was really close to Jock and he was absolutely distraught.’

In the treatment room, Walker and SFA
director Bill Dickie held Stein upright while Doctor Stewart Hillis
administered a jag to ease his distress. Stein’s last words to Walker
were: ‘I’m alright Ernie.’ Seconds later, the ambulance men, trying to
move the vast figure onto a stretcher, reported he was dead.

‘We
went from one extreme to the next,’ Malpas said. ‘During the game we
had no idea what was happening. Other people were prepared for the news
by watching it unfold on television, not us. I was as high as a kite
and now, suddenly, we were brought back to earth by life. Or by the end
of a life, as it transpired.

‘All we had been preoccupied with was qualifying and now, suddenly that seemed totally immaterial. It didn’t matter a damn.’

Journalists
learned the grim extent of Stein’s collapse when Souness emerged into
the corridor, eyes glistening to state baldly: ‘He’s gone.’

Later, at Edinburgh Airport, an early morning hush descended over the party of players, officials and press men who collected their belongings before making for home.

As the last holdall was lifted from the baggage carousel, a solitary item of luggage remained, spinning forlornly on the belt.

An appeal from an airport handler found no takers. A cursory scan inside revealed a book, some pills, a bottle of white wine and a letter addressed to ‘J Stein esq’.

These days, the record books show Stein to have the second best record of any Scotland coach. A run of 68 games brought 30 wins, 13 draws and 25 defeats; statistics bettered only by Craig Brown. Craig Levein can but aspire to that kind of record.

Ninian Park, where Stein collapsed, is no more. The old home of Cardiff City was bulldozed to make way for the soulless new arena across the road where Scotland will play on Friday night. Yet, Stein’s memory and legacy have stood the test of time and continue to outlive mere bricks and mortar.

Extracts taken from: Ten Days That Shook Scotland (Fort Publishing).

Craig Levein to perform another U-turn by recalling Kris Commons

Calling Kris! Levein ready to perform another U-turn by bringing back Commons

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UPDATED:

21:42 GMT, 8 October 2012

Recall: Commons

Recall: Commons

Craig Levein is poised to make a second U-turn in the space of a week by recalling Kris Commons to Scotland’s World Cup squad for Friday night’s game against Wales in Cardiff – if Robert Snodgrass is ruled out because of an ankle injury.

Just seven days on from calling a truce with international refusenik Steven Fletcher, the national boss appears prepared to end the 18-month exile of Commons, consistently overlooked despite his blinding form for Champions League trailblazers Celtic.

The attacking midfielder, who went public to seek an answer for his exclusion last week, has not featured since withdrawing from the Carling Cup of Nations at the end of last season, leading to loud whispers about a fall-out with the manager.

Celtic boss Neil Lennon had also admitted to being baffled by the non-selection of free-scoring Commons, who is playing the best football of his career.

Although the Scotland boss had repeatedly said that Commons hadn’t done enough to merit inclusion ahead of his favoured band of attacking midfielders, the injury to Snodgrass has given him the chance to appease Tartan Army punters left bewildered by the absence of the SPL’s leading performer.

Scotland assistant manager Peter Houston revealed that the Celtic star – whose last cap came against Brazil in 2011 – was first in line should Snodgrass fail a fitness test.

Injury doubt: Snodgrass has picked up an ankle knock

Injury doubt: Snodgrass has picked up an ankle knock

Said Houston: ‘I think that’s probably fair to say because we were talking last night, in case Robert was to go out. And the manager spoke highly of Kris, saying that he was doing well and, if Snoddy didn’t make it, then he would be a possibility.

‘I don’t know 100 per cent but I would guess that Kris, whose form has been so good, would be up there if we bring in someone else – although there hasn’t been a call made to anybody yet.

‘Snodgrass has a sore ankle and was on the bench for Norwich’s game against Chelsea on Saturday, so he is probably a bit touch and go.

‘But we will monitor him over the next day or so and take it from there.

Top form: Commons has been scintillating for Celtic so far this season

Top form: Commons has been scintillating for Celtic so far this season

‘We normally rely on the doctors and physios to set a deadline.

‘We’ve spoken to Norwich and they didn’t seem too perturbed about Robert’s injury – but we have to go by the boy himself.

‘He will know whether or not his ankle is too sore.

‘He only joined up with the squad late last night and he will be working with the physios and doctors today.

‘But, if he is still the same tomorrow, then I think a decision has to be made – at least with regard to Friday’s game.

‘I don’t know the extent of his injury if we’re talking about him for next week’s game in Belgium – but Robert is saying it’s sore.’

Craig Levein won"t be forced to start Jordan Rhodes

Rhodes Block! Levein won't listen to calls for Jordan to start for Scotland

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UPDATED:

21:47 GMT, 9 September 2012

Craig Levein has vowed to resist fan pressure to throw on scoring sensation Jordan Rhodes from the start against Macedonia.

The Scotland manager has a selection dilemma for tomorrow night’s must-win qualification clash at Hampden after his attacking players drew a blank in an uninspiring goalless stalemate against Serbia.

The Tartan Army made their feelings clear when they chanted for 8million Blackburn new boy Rhodes following an hour of frustration on Saturday.

Wait your chance: Jordan Rhodes doesn't like being selected to start for Scotland

Wait your chance: Jordan Rhodes doesn't like being selected to start for Scotland

The former Under-21 international finally appeared from the subs’ bench just nine minutes from time alongside Jamie Mackie – with Levein admitting he might have changed things earlier.

Warning that supporters will never be allowed to pick his team, however, the Scotland manager said: ‘I must use my experience. If, every time the fans start chanting for a player, and I put them on because they want them on, then you would be as well not having a manager. The supporters would pick the team.

‘In the situation we were in, I did what I considered to be the right changes at the right times.

‘I might have gone a little bit earlier with the two substitutions of the strikers. But I felt the game went reasonably well. I’m just disappointed we didn’t get the goals.’

Flawed: Kenny Miller continues to struggle

Flawed: Kenny Miller continues to struggle

Playing up front on his own and feeding from meagre scraps, Kenny Miller had a frustrating day against the Serbs. Levein, however, believes Miller is still the best man to play the solo forward role in his favoured 4-1-4-1 formation, hinting that fan favourite Rhodes will again have to settle for a place on the subs’ bench against Macedonia.

‘I have been doing this for a long time,’ said the manager. ‘Jordan Rhodes is a really good player, but he is untried and untested at international level.

‘I thought Kenny Miller played excellently. He worked his socks off for the team, got us up the pitch and had a couple of opportunities himself.

‘Would I class the two of them as the same player right now No, I don’t think they are. What Jordan can do is have an impact on the game. It may be that Tuesday is the game he has an impact on.

‘But I do feel that we go from nothing to the extreme of “he is the best player who ever played”.

‘Jordan is a young lad learning his way in the game and I will make my judgments based on what I see in training and who we are playing.

'He has come on the scene and scored a lot of goals. So, in the minds of supporters – rightly so – Jordan equals goals. But that doesn’t always work.

'I put on James Forrest to open up the game and see if we could get round the back of them. He did, but more towards the end of the match. I thought he did well.

'I have to make judgments based on what I think is the right thing to do at the time. I also thought Jamie Mackie was excellent. If you want to talk about who impacted the game most, then that was Mackie.

'I know what he can do. I know what Jordan can do and I have to do what I think is best for the team. The two of them did make a difference when they came on.'

Robert Snodgrass eyes 2014 World Cup qualification

Scotland aren't here to make up the numbers, insists Snodgrass as forward eyes qualification

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UPDATED:

09:42 GMT, 5 September 2012

Robert Snodgrass is adamant Scotland are not just going along for the ride as he looks forward to the 2014 World Cup qualifying opener against Serbia at Hampden on Saturday.

Craig Levein's side face Macedonia on Tuesday night in the second of their home double-header and also have to negotiate Belgium, Croatia and Wales if they are to qualify for the finals of a major tournament for the first time since the 1998 World Cup in France.

See you in Rio: Snodgrass insists Scotland can qualify for the World Cup

See you in Rio: Snodgrass insists Scotland can qualify for the World Cup

It is a tough-looking ask for the Tartan Army, but, speaking at Scotland's Mar Hall training base on the outskirts of Glasgow, the Norwich forward said: 'The best countries in the world go and do it (qualify) every time they are called upon.

'We are not here to make up the numbers. There is a firm belief about this squad that we can go and pick up maximum points and qualify.

In charge: Levein is left with the task of leading Scotland to the 2014 World Cup

In charge: Levein is left with the task of leading Scotland to the 2014 World Cup

'There is a good mood about the camp, there always has been every time I have been here.

'We have a job to do as footballers and we will approach each game thinking we can win it. It starts on Saturday and everybody is raring to go.'

London 2012 Olympics: Barry Bannan in dilemma

Bannan in Olympic dilemma as Scot seeks talks with Levein over London 2012

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UPDATED:

22:28 GMT, 21 May 2012

Barry Bannan is poised to seek talks with Scotland manager Craig Levein in Florida this week over his Olympic dilemma.

The Aston Villa winger has been selected on the shortlist of Team GB Olympic coach Stuart Pearce after becoming one of the first Scots to make himself available for this summer’s tournament.

Wary of an SFA or Tartan Army backlash, however, the 22-year-old plans to seek Levein’s advice.

Decision time: Barry Bannan wants to represent Team GB in London

Decision time: Barry Bannan wants to represent Team GB in London

And if the Scotland boss urges him to steer clear of the Olympics, then Bannan will have an agonising decision to make.

‘I’m fiercely proud to be Scottish and want to play for Scotland,’ said Bannan. ‘I always wanted to play for my country and I still get goosebumps thinking about our game last year against Lithuania when I got a huge ovation from the Tartan Army after I was substituted late in the game.

‘The last thing I want to happen isfor the supporters to turn against me and for me to do something that would damage Scotland.

‘I will now speak with the manager and then take things from there.’

Bannan admitted to being taken aback by the strong feelings the issue arises outwith England.

Worried that participating in a Team GB scenario might compromise their independence in the eyes of FIFA, the Celtic nations remain implacably opposed to their players participating — although Wales and Manchester United legend Ryan Giggs admitted he would make himself available for selection.

International star: Bannan has made an impression in the Scotland side

International star: Bannan has made an impression in the Scotland side

‘When I was first approached about the Olympics I wasn’t aware about how people back home were reacting to it,’ Bannan admitted.

‘I indicated that it was something to consider and left it at that.

‘Down south, there is no real hype about it, no big debate about the GB Olympic football team.

‘My family are with me in England, so it’s not as if I was getting feedback from folk back home about the Olympic situation and how it might affect Scotland somewhere down the road.

‘To be honest, when I said I was open to being considered for selection for Team GB, I did not really think that I had any chance of being chosen.

‘The first list issued had more than 100 players on it and I didn’t give it much thought.

‘Now, however, that list has been whittled down and I am still on it and I am now aware it is causing some debate.

Top flight: Bannan has also established himself in the Aston Villa side

Top flight: Bannan has also established himself in the Aston Villa side

‘The way I see it is that I am 100-per-cent Scottish — in fact, I couldn’t be more patriotic.

‘Whenever a Scotland squad is due to come out, I still get a buzz thinking about the games.

‘I get nervous waiting to see if I am named in the gaffer’s pool of players.

‘But, recently, I have been made aware that a lot of people back home are not happy at the thought of Scottish players taking part in the GB football team.

‘I was shielded from all this debate, but I do know the background to it now and it is something that I will have to take into consideration before making a decision.

‘This trip to America with Scotland gives me the chance to ask the gaffer what his views are and also to speak to people from the SFA.

‘It is better if I hear everyone’s thoughts and make up my own mind before a final squad is announced for the Olympics. I think that is only fair to everyone involved.’

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Brandt Snedeker took the title at Harbour Town Links last year and you can keep track of all the latest scores right here.

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Tartan Army: Brandt Snedeker won last year by beating Luke Donald in a play-off

Tartan Army: Brandt Snedeker won last year by beating Luke Donald in a play-off