Smith unmoved by injuries
By Tom Adams
Last Updated: 01/01/70 1:00am
Scotland manager Walter Smith played down the injury crisis affecting his team.Scotland manager Walter Smith has played down the injury crisis affecting his team ahead of Wednesday's World Cup qualifier with Belarus.
The squad had already been hit by a series of withdrawals before Saturday's 2-0 victory over Moldova, and the vital three points came at a further cost as Jackie McNamara had to be replaced due to a groin injury.
The Celtic stopper joined Gary Naysmith, Robert Douglas, Brian O'Neil, Nigel Quashie, Garry O'Connor, Stevie Crawford and Neil McCann in the treatment room as Scotland travel to Minsk to keep their World Cup hopes alive.
A win over Belarus would see Smith's side leap-frog their opponents and be well positioned one point behind second-placed Norway, but the former Rangers boss admitted that he has doubts over the fitness of a further three members of his squad.
Manchester United man Darren Fletcher is also continuing to play despite suffering a hamstring problem, and Smith will wait until deciding on the participation of Preston defender Graham Alexander (toe), Hearts caretaker player-boss Steven Pressley (knee) and Wolves hit-man Kenny Miller (thigh).
Despite the overbearing issues affecting his squad availability, Smith insisted that the problem was not unique in international football, and played down the severity of the situation.
"We have one or two players who are in the doubtful category, it will be after training tonight before we know who is going to be fit or not," said Smith.
"We have doubts over Graham Alexander, Steven Pressley and Kenny Miller.
"Not major injuries obviously but they are minor ones and I don't want to put anyone in we're taking a chance with in terms of substitutions.
"I don't think it's an unexpected situation, you get it in club football all the time.
"If you play on Saturday and have midweek matches you always have elements of doubt over who is going to play.
"I'm sure it's a problem many international teams have to put up with."
Smith also raised caution that Belarus, who have claimed six points to Scotland's five in Group Five so far, would represent a tough challenge due to a crop of talented players.
"Belarus have one or two players who are terrific individuals and I think that takes them above one or two of the other teams in our section," Smith continued.
"We've had them watched in the last three games they've played and my own information is they've played to a good level."
|Belarus evens Draw 11/5 Scotland 11/5 - |
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