Burley relishes new Scotland chapter

George Burley has put Scotland's failed World Cup campaign firmly in the past and thinks the friendly in Wales is the start of a new chapter.

Last Updated: 13/11/09 at 18:21

Burley:

Burley:

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The manager will take the positives from their final two matches against Macedonia and Holland but, as far as he is concerned, it is now time to move on after missing out on a play-off spot in the race for a place in South Africa next summer.

Despite intense speculation over his own future in the wake of that double-header, Burley remains in the hotseat for now and is determined to use this clash in Cardiff to mould a squad capable of competing when qualifying for the European Championships gets under way.

Asked if the friendly in the Welsh capital was the start of a new campaign, Burley declared: "It's already started! You move on from the last one. I was asked the question: Do you think you are starting from scratch? I don't think we are.

"We have built a good team spirit and our performance level got better as the World Cup campaign went on; against Macedonia and Holland, I thought we had two exceptional performances.

"We just missed on getting to the play-offs. But we have spoken about it and we just have to keep improving. It's all about progression. Wales is a big game for us.

"We are looking to keep progressing, we are looking to win matches and get a squad that's strong enough to qualify for a major championships, which Scotland hasn't done for a number of years now.

"Progression is key and I feel that we are improving and we have a hungry squad and I think we are getting better with each game.

"Saturday's game will be a good test, I'm looking forward to it, the preparation is good and we will have a look at some new players. So it promises to be an exciting game."

Burley was boosted ahead of the match at the Cardiff City Stadium with the news that captain Darren Fletcher is fit to take part despite initial fears over an ankle injury - but the Scotland boss wants leaders all over the pitch against John Toshack's men.

He said: "Everybody is important and everybody has a part to play. Darren is captain but you need everybody to be a captain-type.

"Darren's career has gone from strength to strength and it's well-documented how I think his career has gone and the patience he has shown to be at a club like Manchester United, with the best players in the world.

"It's not easy to establish yourself as first choice but he has done that over the last two or three years and all credit to him. He will be the first to say that it's about a team and everybody is so important in that frame-work.

"Darren as captain is magnificent but we need everybody else to perform well and take responsibility and that's the most important thing."

Both Wales and Scotland have suffered call-offs ahead of the match, with the visitors heading into the game without first choice goalkeeper Craig Gordon and Rangers duo Kevin Thomson and Steven Whittaker, while injuries to Celtic midfielders Scott Brown and Shaun Maloney meant they were absent from the initial squad.

Burley said: "You do get injuries and that's part and parcel of the game. If you are going to play a friendly game, you are not going to risk somebody.

"You are trying to build a squad and what you are trying to do is get that spirit. You don't get that many opportunities and you want to get as many caps as you can.

"You want to enjoy it, play in a manner to win games and express yourself. We've got a strong squad and we want players who want to be in the starting line-up and show what they can do. Players who want to get to finals.

"For me, we are getting that way. International football is tough. Wales have found it tough, Scotland have found it tough because we are against some very tough teams.

"International football is about the best players so it's not easy but you have to build spirit and belief that you can get there.

"We got some belief after the Holland game and we were very unfortunate against one of the best teams in the world. Football-wise, we certainly weren't second best. Now we have to take that on to the Euros."

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