Good chemistry key for Scotland

Former Scotland manager Craig Brown is a firm believer that squad unity is vital in international football, especially in the oldest fixture of them all.

Brown made some big decisions before he led Scotland to a 1-0 victory in the most recent competitive game with England in November 1999.

Callum Davidson replaced Paul Ritchie in defence following a first-leg play-off defeat at Hampden and Neil McCann was drafted in for only his fifth cap in place of Kevin Gallacher with Don Hutchison moved up front.

But Brown knew he could count on the support of all squad members and his tactics paid off when Hutchison headed home McCann’s cross just before the break.

Gordon Strachan now has the task of picking a team which he feels is most likely to get a result at Wembley in Friday’s World Cup qualifier.

There are plenty of dilemmas, including who drops out to accommodate the returning Scott Brown; who fills the left-back slot vacated by injuries to Andy Robertson and Kieran Tierney; whether Grant Hanley continues despite a lack of game time for Newcastle; and who plays up front.

And Brown knows that the way the excluded players react can be crucial in preparing for the game.

“You want bench players who are supporters,” said the 76-year-old, who was promoting the launch of the North Lanarkshire Sporting Hall of Fame.

“I think Gordon has got a good chemistry in the Scotland squad, and that can be very important when you play England.

“Ian Durrant wasn’t playing but he was going round all the players and his humour was terrific.

“There was a doorman, the doorman was English and he was giving cups of tea out to the players an hour and a half before the game. Of course, Durrant right away said: ‘What are you doing here? You’re English, you’re in the wrong dressing room’.

“A wee thing like that and we were all smiling and the big English boy didn’t know how to handle it.

“But the togetherness was great – it was always like that. If you have guys like (Ally) McCoist and Tosh McKinlay in your squad, you are full of humour and full of enthusiasm for Scotland.

“I don’t know the Scottish team at the moment but I know Gordon will be trying to instil that kind of atmosphere. If the chemistry is good, it’s a big start for your team on the pitch.”

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