Albania vs Scotland preview: Alex McLeish dealing with multiple absentees
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Last Updated: 17/11/18 6:42pm
Celtic full-back Kieran Tierney is the latest player to pull out of the Scotland squad for the Nations League matches against Albania and Israel.
But Alex McLeish brushed aside call-off controversy to pay "utmost respect" to those who are available for Scotland's crucial Nations League double-header.
Aston Villa midfielder John McGinn became the eighth withdrawal from the squad when he pulled out on Thursday with a calf injury.
Two wins would guarantee a play-off spot with a place in the 2020 Euros at stake, and he prefers to focus on those who are available.
The former Scotland defender said: "We kind of have the nucleus here and that is important. We are going to concentrate on the guys who are in the squad and pay them our utmost respect. I really trust them. We have two really big games ahead of us and we can do it.
"I know we can do it if we can play to our best performance level."
Scotland put in a solid performance in the 2-0 win over Albania in their first Group C1 fixture but McLeish is expecting a tougher test in Shkoder.
"I am sure they have prepared well. You know they beat Israel in their home patch and they qualified for the last Euros.
"So they are not mugs. Liverpool go to Red Star Belgrade last week after a 4-0 thrashing of them a few weeks before that and found it a hard game (they lost 2-0). It is always going to be a hard game."
Left-back Tierney had been in contention to play at right-back due to the absence of Kilmarnock's Stephen O'Donnell, but now he has joined the injury list himself.
Steven Naismith and Leigh Griffiths are injured, meaning Steven Fletcher has been recalled to the Scotland squad after a 13-month absence.
Scott Bain, Scott McTominay, Jack Hendry and David Bates have joined up with the Scotland squad after Craig Gordon, Charlie Mulgrew, Michael Devlin and Kevin McDonald had also dropped out.
Rangers midfielder Eros Grezda could feature for the home side.
This will be just the second meeting between Albania and Scotland after they faced off in the reverse UEFA Nations League fixture in September, with the Scots winning 2-0.
Scotland have lost seven of their last nine internationals (W2), including each of the last two.
After winning their first away game under Alex McLeish, Scotland have lost each of the next three - they haven't lost four successive away games since August 2010 (five losses).
Albania have lost seven of their last 10 international matches (W2 D1), losing each of their last two UEFA Nations League games.
Albania have kept clean sheets in each of their last two home games; they haven't kept three in a row since September 2010 (four successive home shutouts).
It's hard enough just to pick a team for Scotland these days as nobody seems to want to play for us anymore. They're all pulling out as they can see the writing on the wall and we're going to Albania just looking to not get battered.
I've got so much sympathy for the coaching staff and Albania have a few handy players in their squad that could cause us a few problems, especially at home. But I'm hoping for a stubborn Scottish performance that's enough to get us a draw.
Charlie predicts: 1-1 (9/2 with Sky Bet)