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Page last updated at 14:14 GMT, Wednesday, 12 August 2009 15:14 UK

Pat Nevin on Scots XI for Norway

World Cup Qualifier, Group Nine: Norway v Scotland
Venue: Ullevaal Stadion, Oslo Date: Wed, 12 August Kick-off: 1800 BST
Coverage: Live on BBC Two, BBC Radio Scotland, Radio 5 live and BBC Sport website


BBC Scotland has learned the starting XI that George Burley will field in Scotland's World Cup qualifier against Norway in Oslo.

Pat Nevin

As ever, team-selection and shape is the subject of some debate.

Here, Pat Nevin, who played 25 times for Scotland, gives his views on the team tasked with winning three points in the Norwegian capital.

GOALKEEPER - David Marshall

This is a minor surprise for me. I think most people would have gone with Neil Alexander.

MY SPORT: DEBATE

But there wasn't much in it and I can accept that one may have looked better in training.

There were also some unusual comments from Alexander in the papers, where he said he reckoned Marshall should get the nod.

But I can accept that decision.

DEFENCE - Alan Hutton - Gary Caldwell - Steven Caldwell - Callum Davidson

I think the only question mark is Callum Davidson. The other three, I think most people would agree, are what's needed for the day.

Callum Davidson
Preston's Davidson has not played for Scotland since 2002

Maybe Callum gets there only because George Burley feels he needs a sitting midfielder - and I can understand that.

Callum is an out-and-out left-back anyway, so if he's fit and 100%, I think it's fine.

I can understand the manager's thinking, but I think Stephen Whittaker can feel a bit disappointed.

I suppose in a game like this, that's do-or-die, you want to use people who have been the course before.

Although Callum's not played since 2002, he's still has 17 appearances for Scotland.

HOLDING MIDFIELDER - Graham Alexander

Graham's been playing there for a while for Burnley, but I have to be brutally honest and say I haven't seen him play there.

It's a slight surprise that Paul Hartley's not in that position because he's played it well.

But if George has been watching Graham settled in that position and doing well there then I have to bow to his knowledge on that one.

It's probably a toss-up between the two and if Graham's playing more regularly in that position then fair enough.

MIDFIELD - Kris Commons - Darren Fletcher - Scott Brown - Ross McCormack

I'm surprised James McFadden's not involved. But, if he is to play, I would expect him to be in one of the wide midfield positions.

James McFadden
McFadden has not made the Scotland line-up for Oslo

On the other hand, Faddy's continually said he wants to play centre-forward. And, if it's a choice between him playing there or being on the bench, I would have to put him on the bench.

I would have tried to talk him into playing in one of the wide midfield positions, with McCormack on the other side, because James is very, very creative for the team.

So if the manager's put into a corner with that selection then I think he's made the right call - painful though it might be - because I don't think he's the man to play up front on his own.

I think McFadden's is even your third choice lone striker. So I can understand him being on the bench.

LONE FORWARD - Kenny Miller

I still think Steven Fletcher's the better bet at the moment.

Yes, I've probably seen a lot more of Steven at Easter Road. But, for what he can give and what he's got, I've absolutely no doubt he'll be a first pick within a year.

Steven Fletcher
Fletcher will play in the England's top flight with Burnley next season

Actually, I don't think we should wait that long. I think he should be first pick now.

He's one player I would have in that team straight away. I would make space for him somewhere.

On the other hand, if you hold it and keep it tight with 30 minutes to go and you bring Fletcher and McFadden off the bench then that could be the stroke of genius.

But, if we're behind, and we're asking those two to come on and score goals then I think the questions will be asked.

FINAL THOUGHTS

To be honest, it's not as exciting as I hoped it would be. But, the more I look at it, the more I understand it.

It is a good enough team to win the game - if they play well. And there are options to change things if they're not doing well.

If that team doesn't work, and we lose a couple of goals before half-tme, I think the press will be on top of George Burley very quickly.


Pat Nevin was speaking to BBC Scotland's David McDaid



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see also
Norway 4-0 Scotland
12 Aug 09 |  Internationals
Scotland can bounce back - Burley
13 Aug 09 |  Internationals
Carew says Scots got off lightly
12 Aug 09 |  Internationals
Ferguson slams SFA over Scots ban
10 Aug 09 |  Internationals
Scots midfield holds key says Law
10 Aug 09 |  Internationals
Burley bullish over Scots hopes
08 Aug 09 |  Internationals
Gordon ruled out of Norway match
01 Aug 09 |  Sunderland
Scots boss assembles squad of 13
07 Aug 09 |  Internationals
Burley coy on goalkeeper choice
04 Aug 09 |  Scotland
Depleted Scots call up Naismith
04 Aug 09 |  Internationals
Norway coach vows to attack Scots
29 Jul 09 |  Internationals


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