Gordon Strachan: We will need to be better against Slovenia

Scotland manager Gordon Strachan issues instructions to captain Darren Fletcher. Picture: Alan Harvey/SNS
Scotland manager Gordon Strachan issues instructions to captain Darren Fletcher. Picture: Alan Harvey/SNS
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Gordon Strachan insisted Scotland’s 1-1 draw with a Canadian side currently 117th in the Fifa world rankings was “invaluable” preparation for Sunday’s crucial World Cup qualifier against Slovenia at Hampden.

The Scots had to recover from the early loss of a goal by Falkirk winger Fraser Aird to salvage some pride with Steven Naismith’s equaliser before half-time. It was an insipid display from Strachan’s side on a miserable night at Easter Road and did nothing to inspire confidence ahead of a weekend assignment they must win in order to retain any credible hope of reaching the 2018 World Cup finals.

But although Scotland were jeered off at the end, Strachan maintained that taking on the friendly against the Canadians had been worthwhile.

“It was one our better decisions to have the game,” said the Scotland manager. “It’s cleared up a lot of things and helped a lot of players.

“We learned quite a few things tonight. It wasn’t a great night, it won’t be memorable in anyone’s mind at the end of their career. But it is invaluable for me just now to use that information we collected tonight for Sunday, that’s 
for sure.

“I felt a lot of players found it hard. Using a golfing analogy, it’s very hard to take two months off and then play in the Masters when the conditions are not the easiest.

“You could see our rust in the first 10 or 15 minutes. That spooked us for a bit. We could have been braver with passes through people and braver to receive it. But ,when you’ve not played a lot of games, it’s very hard to just switch on and 
do that.

“It will need to be better on Sunday, unless we are very lucky. We are not going to try to take luck into it, so we have to be better. It’s very hard to play at international level when you are not firing on all cylinders in your club game. But we needed to find that out.”

Strachan took some encouragement from the performance of Fulham midfielder Tom Cairney on his international debut but was dealt a blow when a knee injury prevented Bournemouth winger Ryan Fraser from making his first appearance. Fraser is unlikely to recover in time to face Slovenia.