Five talking points ahead of Czech Republic v Scotland

Scotland's Alan Hutton will win his 50th cap in Prague. Picture: Craig Williamson/SNS

Scotland's Alan Hutton will win his 50th cap in Prague. Picture: Craig Williamson/SNS

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Scotland are in Prague for their friendly international against Czech Republic on Thursday night, before hosting Denmark next week.

Here are the main talking points ahead of the Stadion Letna encounter.

NEW ERA

Scotland’s failure to reach Euro 2016 led to another bout of soul-searching within the Scottish football community.

That England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Republic of Ireland will all be in France – the latter having come out of Scotland’s group through the play-offs – has only added to the disappointment of a nation who has to look back to 1998 for its last appearance at the finals of a major tournament.

The friendly double-header against Czech Republic and Denmark is the start of preparations for the 2018 World Cup qualifiers which begin later in the year.

With only one team qualifying automatically, Gordon Strachan’s task is no easier but the Tartan Army remain hopeful and will be looking for signs of encouragement against the Czechs.

FRESH FACES

There are 10 uncapped players over the two squads and several are likely to make their debuts against Czech Republic.

Scott Bain, Kevin McDonald, Kenny McLean, Tony Watt and Paul Caddis, a late call-up, could all get some game time as Strachan looks to see who might provide a freshness and inspiration for the next set of qualifiers.

However, even if there are new faces, the Scots are looking to build on existing foundations with assistant manager Mark McGhee keen to stress the double-header is not about experimentation.

ALAN HUTTON’S 50TH CAP

While there are likely to be several debutants in the Scotland side in Prague, Alan Hutton will earn his 50th cap.

The Aston Villa full-back has been a reliable servant for various managers since making his debut in a 1-0 win over Austria in Graz nine years ago.

Hutton will take his place on the SFA’s official Roll of Honour for those who reach that half-century landmark, and he publicly thanked Strachan for showing faith in him when he fell out of favour at Villa two years ago.

TACTICS

The mere mention of the Czech Republic is a reminder to the Tartan Army of their visit to Prague in September 2010.

Craig Levein’s controversial 4-6-0 formation failed to produce a positive result against the home side in their Euro 2012 qualifier.

Roman Hubnik headed in the winner after 69 minutes and the 1-0 defeat was a blow to qualification hopes which ultimately came up short.

There will be new faces in the Scotland line-up but Strachan’s side will contain at least one striker – probably in a 4-2-3-1 or a 4-4-1-1 – and have a much more positive outlook in the search for a morale-boosting win.

TONY WATT

Scotland fans will be keen to see Watt in action. The striker made his name at Celtic, scoring the winner in a 2-1 victory over Barcelona at Parkhead in 2012.

However, since leaving Celtic the 22-year-old has moved around five different clubs and is currently on loan at Blackburn Rovers from Charlton Athletic.

Strachan and McGhee have both praised his natural ability but the latter is not so keen on his fitness levels, which suggests he will make his debut off the bench.

Scotland are not top-heavy with goalscorers so Watt has a chance to stake his claim for a place in the squad on a permanent basis.

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