Scotland boss Alex McLeish will not scrap back-three formation

Alex McLeish has much to ponder tactically with Scotland. Pic: SNS
Alex McLeish has much to ponder tactically with Scotland. Pic: SNS
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Alex McLeish will not bow to pressure and jettison the three-at-the-back formation that has come under intense scrutiny following the Nations League debacle in Israel.

The Scotland manager’s uses the system to accommodate captain Andrew Robertson and Kieran Tierney. But with the Liverpool and Celtic defenders featuring at left wing-back and left centre-back respectively neither is playing in his preferred full-back role.

McLeish admitted he will consider adapting to a back four for tonight’s Hampden friendly against Portugal but, in part, that consideration may be related to the withdrawal of Tierney with “fatigue”.

“The medical team said he had a bit of fatigue so we felt it was right and proper he go back to his club,” the national coach said.

Charlie Mulgrew, John Souttar, Scott McTominay and Robert Snodgrass have also dropped out, leading to call-ups for Aberdeen pair Mikey Devlin and Gary Mackay-Steven, and Celtic’s Ryan Christie.

McLeish said he has no desire to choose between Robertson and Tierney. “I wouldn’t be ready to go down that particular road just now,” he said. “We have played two competitive games with Andy and Kieran in those positions. One was a victory [against Albanina]. One was a loss. Let’s not panic. Andy, to all intents and purposes, is in a role that he performs for Liverpool. He has big Virgil [van Dijk] behind him and knows he can go up and down that line pressing people.

“We do need our best players in the team. And I’m not playing them hopelessly out of position. It’s not as if they are on the right wing or at centre-forward. I believe that it will work for us.”