Gordon Strachan has ordered his players to play their normal game against Malta tonight despite several being at risk of picking up a ban.
A booking for any out of skipper Scott Brown, James McArthur, Leigh Griffiths and Grant Hanley will mean they are suspended for next month’s crucial home Group F clash against Slovakia.
While Hanley is unlikely to start this evening at Hampden, the other three players were central to Friday’s 3-0 win in Lithuania.
But the Scotland manager says he is not tempted to make too many changes against the side ranked 190 in the world through fear certain players might miss out next time.
“No, this has to be done,” said Strachan. “You have to get a win.”
“Play the game,” he added. “But just don’t do silly things. We advised these guys the other night: yes, get angry but don’t kick the ball away or shout at the referee.
“If you get booked by making a tackle that’s going to help us or you make a mistake then there is nothing we can do about that.
“Stand up and be counted. Don’t be bullied by anyone for the sake of not getting that yellow card.”
Strachan was confident Griffiths and Brown will heed the warning despite disciplinary issues in the past. According to Strachan, they are different men in the Scotland environment – and they have to be.
“I think we’ve spoken about the maturity of them, we’ve all seen that,” he said. “You get more mature. I don’t know, they seem to have a different way about them here, where they see they can’t get away with doing sillier things at this level. Maybe it is because international referees are on top of you.”
Referees are often stricter on the international stage. But Strachan acknowledged he’d had the referee to thank on Friday otherwise another player might have been walking a disciplinary tightrope tonight – or indeed be banned.
Referee Carlos del Carro Grande relayed a message to Strachan through his fourth assistant that one of the Scotland players was beginning to catch his eye for the wrong reasons.
“In matter of fact, the international referee was good the other night,” he said. “They asked me to speak to a player about something that might be a problem later on in the game. So I spoke to him. They are right on top of it, they can see everything.
“They don’t let you get away with anything.”
“It was good,” he added. “Again, you say to the players, ‘the referee is keeping an eye on you’.”
Strachan, pictured left, insists Scotland can’t afford to have one eye on tonight’s clash between England and Slovakia at Wembley. A win for England will greatly enhance Scotland’s chances of reaching second place – and a play-off spot.
But a win or a draw for Slovakia will see Scotland up against it again. Strachan underlined the need for England to get three points to strengthen their stranglehold on Group F.
So he has no fears about Gareth Southgate’s side being satisfied with a draw. “England are like a Man United or Celtic in that they have to win every game,” said Strachan. “If Slovakia won it would be a real turn up for the books. It would put Slovakia ahead and England would go into the play-off place, which wouldn’t have been thought about [before].”