We all like to have our say on the Scotland team – who would we pick, who we definitely would not pick, and who isn’t getting the chance they deserve.
In that respect the STV Sport team is no different. So we had a look at the men available, form and the hints coming from the camp, and put together the team we would play against Serbia at Hampden Stadium.
Read on, agree, disagree - let us know what you would change.
Now tried and tested since Craig Levein produced the Supporter Kryptonite that was 4-6-0, the shape allows a traditional back four to be protected from the many willing runners from midfield in the international game, with a dedicated anchor man. The four in front offers width, a bit of creativity and support for the lone frontman, who will be expected to pound the ground putting defenders under pressure.
Goalkeeper: Allan McGregor
The fitness of the Besiktas man was in serious doubt after an apparent tear to his groin suffered in the Australia friendly last month. The medical staff in Turkey have appeared to work wonders though, and the ex-Rangers number one is expected to line up between the stick at Hampden.
Winning his 23rd cap for the country, McGregor is now experienced enough to provide a reassuring presence for the back four and his shot stopping has never been in doubt.
Centre Back: Andy Webster and Christophe Berra
Webster stands to earn his 26th cap and has been a calming influence since being brought back into the fold by Levein. Not blessed with the greatest pace, Webster has the mental acumen needed at international level to cut out threats before they become critical.
Opposite him, former Hearts team-mate Berra has the skill set of pace and aerial prowess to play comfortably at this level. As evidenced both in dark blue and at club level with Wolverhampton Wanderers, he can be prone to lapses in concentration, particularly when faced with physical opponents. Left footed, so brings balance in carrying the ball out of defence and building from the back.
Full Backs: Alan Hutton and Paul Dixon
Hutton dispelled many doubts over his match fitness with a strong display against Australia. Frozen out at his club Aston Villa, his slot may have been under more pressure if Phil Bardsley was fit. Nonetheless, the 24-times capped right back offers a thrilling attacking threat which can unlock the best of defences through the overlap.
Paul Dixon may have an unenviable task in starting the game. Uncapped thus far, the Huddersfield Town man is thrown in after injuries ruled out numerous options at left back. Likely to come up against lively FC Twente winger Dusan Tadic, full concentration will be needed from the former Dundee United defender on his debut.
Holding Midfield: Gary Caldwell
He said himself that he hoped it would not come to this, but Caldwell is likely to captain the team on his 50th appearance by anchoring the midfield. Levein’s preferred options in the role – Darren Fletcher, Scott Brown and James McArthur – are all unavailable.
Caldwell, likely Scotland’s best central defender, assuaged some doubts about his competency for the role against Australia and will need to be at his best to repel Heerenveen’s Filip Djuricic and deep-lying forward Miralem Sulejmani.
Central Midfield: James Morrison and Charlie Adam
Levein has moulded Morrison in to his number ten player, drifting into space, playing the killer pass, supporting out wide when needed. The West Bromwich Albion man has matured greatly and stands out at Premier League level.
While Levein may have bullishly compared him to Landon Donovan following Scotland’s 5-1 humbling against the USA, there’s no doubting Morrison’s worth. If he can add goals (just one in 21 caps so far) to the mix, the Scots’ chances will have increased dramatically in this campaign.
New Stoke City recruit Adam has become a permanent fixture in the side since he relaunched his career at Blackpool. His set pieces are often the most useful part of his game at international level and he has to be wary of his movement in order to keep up with Levein’s preferred counter-attacking model.
Wide Midfield: Robert Snodgrass and Steven Naismith
Snodgrass’ stock continues to soar after making his arrival in the English Premier League. His physicality always hinted he could go all the way, now his awareness and touch match the stature. Dangerous pulling in from the right and unleashing a left foot strike, he faces an almighty task in keeping Aleksandar Kolorov shackled in defence.
The move south to Everton looks to have matured Naismith even further. Now 25, Naismith will win his 17th Scotland cap as he looks for a third goal. Working with players like Leon Osman and Kevin Mirallas has rubbed off on the livewire forward, with intelligent movement and linking play a major part of his role at Goodison Park.
On his day he can carry a team through sheer enthusiasm. Scots must hope he is fully over the psychological barrier of the serious knee injury he has recently recovered from.
Striker: Kenny Miller
All signs point towards Miller holding on to the number nine jersey ahead of Jordan Rhodes…for now. Levein has placed his trust in the 32-year-old, now playing for Vancouver Whitecaps in MLS, as his workrate and instinct can pay off against experienced national teams.
The presence of Rhodes can only motivate the front man to perform, as the Tartan Army senses a new hero to lead the line is waiting in the wings. If he can take his chances, the early ones in particular, then Levein’s faith will have been justified.
The Bench: Looking for an impact
Manager Craig Levein and his assistant Peter Houston have an interesting set of substitutes to provide an attacking impact. Celtic’s James Forrest will run at the defence like no other player can. He could panic a tired backline.
Shaun Maloney is in marvellous form for Wigan Athletic and proved a useful replacement for Morrison in the number ten role against the Socceroos.
Jordan Rhodes' charms are well known, but another option either through the middle or wide on the left is QPR’s Jamie Mackie. A willing runner and deadly finisher, Mackie will be at the front of Levein’s mind when it comes to shaking up the attack.
Like the look of that? Or have we got it all wrong? Tweet the team on @STVSport with your thoughts.
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- Paul Dixon and Gary MacKenzie called into Scotland squad as cover
- Allan McGregor to take injection for Scotland's World Cup double header
- Gary Caldwell hoping he won't be called in to midfield again for Scotland
- Kenny Miller still Scotland's first choice striker, says Craig Levein
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