Alex McLeish defends double debut for Scotland keepers in Mexico

Scotland manager Alex McLeish will hand two goalies their debuts against Mexico. Picture: Mark Runnacles/Getty Images
Scotland manager Alex McLeish will hand two goalies their debuts against Mexico. Picture: Mark Runnacles/Getty Images
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Scotland boss Alex McLeish has defended his plan to hand two different goalkeepers their debuts against Mexico in the intimidating surroundings of Estadio Azteca.

He confirmed his side will play with a different goalkeeper in each half of the friendly, which kicks off in the early hours of tomorrow morning.

Hearts’ Jon McLaughlin is set to start with Scott Bain of Celtic replacing him at half-time. McLeish, pictured, explained he had little option but to hand debuts to not one but two goalies in the clash, which is a 72,000 sell-out. He had promised to give every travelling player some game time on this Americas tour.

Millwall No 1 Jordan Archer, who endured a difficult debut in the 2-0 defeat to Peru earlier this week, is being rested.

“Who else can play?” asked McLeish. “They’re the only goalkeepers who are here! It’s their first game so they will feel a bit of an adrenaline rush and it will be up to them.

“This is the first time any of the goalkeepers have played for their countries and we all saw the Champions League last weekend, when a goalkeeper makes a mistake it’s invariably a goal. But it’s an amazing place to make your Scotland debut.”

McLeish concedes Scotland face a huge challenge due to a combination of factors, including heat, high altitude and limited personnel options.

“We’re playing with a team that is not the strongest team that Scotland have ever put out,” he said.

The venue for tomorrow morning’s game is of course where Diego Maradona famously used the “hand of God” to score against England for Argentina in a World Cup quarter-final in 1986. The Mexican Football Federation (FMF) were desperate to have Video Assistant Referees (VAR) in full use against Scotland prior to the World Cup finals in 
Russia later this month.

The Scottish Football Association granted the FMF’s request for permission but the Costa Rican match officials are understood to have vetoed
 the plans.

While the system will be still in operation at Estadio Azteca,
it will be in “off-line” mode meaning there will be no 
disruptions to the game.

McLeish had hoped Scotland would reap the benefit of breaks in the play in what are expected to be searing conditions. The Scottish players will already have to cope with the high altitude factor. Estadio Azteca is 7,200 feet above sea level and the Scotland squad only arrived in the city last night in an attempt to combat the effects.