Rumour Mill: Slovenia stars to miss out | Scotland better than England? | Robertson will play through pain

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Scotland’s hopes of making it to Russia 2018 have been boosted by the news Slovenian star pair Valter Birsa and Rene Krhin will sit out tomorrow’s crunch match; Birsa also reckons Scotland are a better side than England; Scotland ace Andrew Robertson has been given the green light to play in Ljubljana.

Slovenians banned for Scotland tie

Scotland's chances of finishing second have been bolstered by the news that Slovenia star pairing Birsa and Krhin will miss out tomorrow's match. Picture: John Devlin

Scotland's chances of finishing second have been bolstered by the news that Slovenia star pairing Birsa and Krhin will miss out tomorrow's match. Picture: John Devlin

Scottish hopes of qualifying from Group F have been bolstered by the news that Slovenian duo Valter Birsa and Rene Krhin will not play in tomorrow’s crunch match.

Winger Birsa, who plys his trade in Italy for Chievo, and Nantes midfielder Krhin both received their second bookings of the campaign in the game against England on Thursday and will therefore miss out in the tie versus Scotland in Ljubljana. (Daily Express)

Scotland better than England, says Slovenia star

Slovenia ace Valter Birsa has ramped up the mind games ahead of Sunday’s big match by claiming Scotland were the best team his side faced in the group. The Chievo player, who will miss out in Ljubljana after picking up his second booking of the campaign against England, said: “Of all the matches we have played so far, the hardest was against Scotland. They are a tough nation with a tough mentality.

“They were aggressive and we struggled to cope in Glasgow. They gave us more problems than England and Slovakia.” (The Scottish Sun)

Robertson play through the pain

Andrew Robertson was given the all-clear yesterday evening to play in tomorrow’s big game in Slovenia. The Liverpool left-back was forced to play the final minutes of Thursday’s game against Slovakia with a strapping on his right wrist after suffering an injury. Initial fears were that a bone was broken, but thankfully for Robertson and his Scotland teammates that was not the case. The 23-year-old defender was given the go-ahead to board today’s flight to the Slovenian capital and should be present in Gordon Strachan’s starting line-up. (Various)

Skrtel admits Scots likely to progress

A downbeat Martin Skrtel has said Scotland look likely to finish second in Group F and snatch a much-coveted play-off spot. The ex-Liverpool defender, whose unfortunate deflection made it advantage Scotland on Thursday, said: “It was a cruel way for it to end for us, and for me in particular.

“It won’t be easy for Scotland in Slovenia, but they have the advantage now”. (The Herald)

Chelsea legend favourite for Killie job

Steve Clarke is the bookie’s favourite to land the vacant manager’s position at Kilmarnock. The Chelsea legend, who has been out of work since a caretaker spell in charge of Aston Villa last year, has admitted his interest in the post. Boasting an impressive CV, the 56-year-old former Scotland international has managed both West Brom and Reading and has been a number two at Newcastle, Chelsea, West Ham and Liverpool. As a defender, Clarke made 330 appearances for Chelsea between 1987 and 1998. He was appointed assistant manager of the club when Jose Mourinho took over the reins as boss in 2004. (Daily Record)

Messi and co on brink of World Cup KO (Sun)

Lionel Messi and his Argentina teammates could be set to lose out on a place at the World Cup next summer. A 0-0 stalemate with Peru on Thursday has left the Argentines facing the prospect of missing out at the quadrennial tournament for the first time in nearly 50 years. Argentina are currently sixth in their group but need to finish fifth if they’ve any chance of joining the big guns for Russia 2018. Their final qualifier, a tricky away tie against Ecuador in the thin air of Quito, is on Tuesday. (The Scottish Sun)

Strachan right to sub me, says Tierney

Kieran Tierney reckons Scotland boss Gordon Strachan was spot on in his decision to switch him on Thursday. Tierney was subbed off for Ikechi Anya with eight minutes left on the clock. Anya’s wing trickery in the late phase of the match helped supply the cross that deflected off Martin Skrtel and gave Scotland their priceless goal. (Various)