Tuesday, 14 August 2012
Scotland assistant manager Peter Houston says Wednesday's friendly match against Australia offers fringe players a last chance to impress before World Cup qualification begins.
The Scots take on the Socceroos at Hibernian's Easter Road Stadium in Edinburgh in their last match before they take on Serbia and Macedonia in World Cup qualifying in September.
Manager Craig Levein had hoped to use the match to finetune his side before these massive games but his squad has been hit by a number of high profile withdrawals.
West Brom midfielder Graham Dorrans, Jamie Mackie, Phil Bardsley have all pulled out through injury while first team picks such as Darren Fletcher, Scott Brown, Kenny Miller and Steven Whittaker are also out.
However, the Scotland manager has called up Blackburn striker David Goodwillie, Ross McCormack and Rangers player Ian Black, despite the midfielder now plying his trade in Scotland's Third Division.
Assistant boss Houston has urged the players to make the most of the opportunity.
"The withdrawals we've had means it has to be partly about experimenting," Houston said.
"But it gives a chance to guys like Ian Black to play at international level. We have to make sure we're ready, and this is preparation for two very tough matches next month.
"Australia give us great opposition. If you look at their squad, they've got some talented players, they're always very fit and athletic and I think they're about 20 places above Scotland in the rankings."
Houston also acknowledged the importance of a good result and performance to help erase memories of a heavy defeat 5-1 by the USA in May.
"That game came when our players were on the way down, maybe looking for their holidays," he conceded.
"But the players are fresh. They look fit."
The Scotland players could find themselves up against a couple of familiar players in the Australia line-up with Hearts player Ryan McGowan in line to make his debut for the Socceroos while former Motherwell and Celtic player Scott McDonald has been included in the 20-man squad.
The striker, scored 51 goals in 88 games for Celtic but has yet to find the back of the net in 25 appearances for the national team.
McDonald hasn't been involved with the national side since 2010 but he will try to convince Socceroos coach Holger Osieck to give him a start in the country where he's done plenty of damage at club level.
Socceroos coach Osieck has left out former Liverpool player Harry Kewell while ex-Everton midfielder Tim Cahill was allowed to stay with the New York Bulls.
Lucas Neill is likely to captain the side despite not currently having a club.