Levein calls on braveheart spirit

Craig Levein has urged his players to return home with their heads held high following Wednesday night's friendly in Sweden (kick-off 7pm).

Last Updated: 10/08/10 at 18:46

Levein: Scotland in Stockholm

Levein: Scotland in Stockholm

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Levein had hoped the clash in Stockholm would give him a better idea of his game plan for their Euro 2012 qualifying Group I opener in Lithuania early next month.

But his plans have been hampered by a host of call-offs ahead of what will be only his second game at the helm, having triumphed in another friendly against Czech Republic in March.

In contrast, Sweden coach Erik Hamren boasts a full-strength squad for the visit of the Scots at the Rasunda Stadion, including the talismanic Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who has come out of international retirement ahead of their own qualifying campaign.

"With the call-offs, it's a little bit different from what I envisaged," admitted Levein.

"I expected to have more of the regulars here, if you want to call them that. Every game gives you something and I certainly look at this match and see it as an extremely tough game, away from home to Sweden.

"I had a look at their team and they are pretty much at full strength. If we can come out of this with our heads held high, I'll be pretty happy."

Levein has five players missing after Lee McCulloch (viral infection), Alan Hutton (groin), Andy Webster (hamstring), Graham Dorrans (groin) and David Marshall (elbow) had to stand down.

He had already lost number one goalkeeper Craig Gordon to a broken arm and defender Gary Caldwell, who had two hip operations during the summer.

And the Scotland boss revealed those disruptions meant he had had to ditch his usual routine of naming his team the day before the game to give himself more time to ponder his selection.

"We haven't had an opportunity to do an awful lot after the travelling yesterday," said Levein.

"We did a little bit this morning and we will do a little bit on the pitch tonight. I haven't actually selected the team yet, I'll do that tomorrow.

"It's a bit unusual for me because I usually do it the day before the game but with all the call-offs and one or two other things, I'll wait until tomorrow and see how everyone is.

"I didn't expect as many call-offs as we've got so there are one or two things I need to have a look at. We have the training session and then I'll think about it overnight.

"I just have to try and make sure that I'm comfortable with certain pairings and such like. I can't say for certain numbers-wise how many I'm deciding on. So what I decided to do was leave it until after training."

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