Scotland manager Craig Levein stalls keeper choice for Serbia clash
SCOTLAND manager Craig Levein says he could wait right up to the last minute before deciding whether to play Matt Gilks or David Marshall in the crucial World Cup qualifier against Serbia.
The match is only three weeks away but the groin injury sustained by first-choice keeper Allan McGregor against Australia, which effectively rules him out of the September double header with Serbia and Macedonia, has left Levein in a quandary.
“I don’t think there is a huge difference between Matt and David. I’ll wait and see how they play between now and when we meet up again. Both of them will be watched in the coming weeks. It may well come down to how they do in training in the days leading up to the game.
“I don’t see Allan making it. Craig Gordon has an outside chance but he needs to get a club.
“To be fair to Matt he has been patient. I’ve intended to give him a game many times and then the game has changed or I’ve forgotten. I thought he played well when he came on against Australia. But I will speak to Jim Stewart [Scotland goalkeeping coach] about it before team selection. I always do when it comes to the goalkeepers.”
With the goalkeeping situation in a state of flux, there are also conundrums in other areas of the side. Charlie Adam and Steven Naismith have laid claim to starting spots after returning from injuries and Levein is refusing to rule Darren Fletcher out for the upcoming matches, given the speed of his progress over the past few weeks, while the performances of Danny Fox at left-back and Jordan Rhodes up front have also created selection difficulties. While those are the problems managers prefer, it has left Levein mulling over a change of formation ahead of the first matches in the latest bid to qualify for a major championships.
There has been talk of starting with twin strikers against Serbia and he has considered going to three at the back but, he says, it is a tough decision to make and will ultimately be based on the personnel available and their ability to adapt in training.
“I keep looking at that but it’s getting the time to do it properly. The reason we’re settled on the system we use just now is that it seemed to suit the players we’ve got. So, I’ve got a dilemma of whether to try to invent something new in the lead up to this next game, but it does take a bit of time. I’m caught in between, whether to be adventurous with systems.
“At club level it’s easy because what I’d do is work on something for three or four weeks in a row, every Monday and Tuesday, really batter it. And then, when I think it’s right, I go with it.”
At international level, with time together limited, he says it is far more difficult to change the system. “Although I’m not saying I won’t. Serbia played a 3-4-2-1 and that means I’ll need to look at that in great detail. If we just go in with two it could be asking for trouble. So it’s not just so simple. You could argue that playing two up top would give you a better chance of scoring a goal, but you could be 2-0 down before you blink an eyelid.
“There are so many things to think about. It’s not haphazard. It has to be detailed and there has to be a reason for it. And yet it all still goes wrong sometimes.”
But, with success in the home matches seen as vital if Scotland are to make it safely along the road to Rio, Levein knows his side cannot afford to get it wrong.
Search for a job
Search for a car
Search for a house
Weather for Edinburgh
Thursday 20 June 2013
Temperature: 11 C to 19 C
Wind Speed: 7 mph
Wind direction: North
Temperature: 11 C to 18 C
Wind Speed: 13 mph
Wind direction: West