Wales v Scotland preview

Craig Levein has backed Scotland to handle the pressure against Wales and secure their first win of the World Cup qualifying campaign.

Last Updated: 11/10/12 at 21:21

Levein: Confident of win

Levein: Confident of win

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The Scots head into Friday's qualifier against the Welsh well aware of the expectations to produce the goods following a difficult start to Group A.

Hopes were high of taking maximum points from the opening two games against Serbia and Macedonia at Hampden but Levein's men were forced to settle for just two points from the double-header last month.

The Tartan Army now hope the clash in Cardiff will kick-start the campaign and the manager has no fears about his players' ability to cope with the occasion.

He said: "These guys we have play in the biggest leagues in the world every week in front of TV audiences of millions and they cope with it.

"I don't think there is going to be any worry at all in our team about being able to handle the pressure."

Wales are also under pressure to bolster their own hopes after suffering defeat in their opening two matches - including a 6-1 thrashing to Serbia.

Levein stressed the difficulties faced by himself and opposite number Chris Coleman as international bosses but says he is still relishing being at the Scotland helm.

He added: "I had a brief chat with Chris down in London a couple of months ago about the differences between club management and international management.

"There are a lot of differences - it's a tougher job I believe.

"We've both got tough jobs but you don't take the job that I'm in or Chris is in and think that everything is going to be easy because that's just impossible.

"Yes, it's tough but I'm the proudest man in Scotland to be the Scotland manager. Anything that comes with it, I'll take it just so that I can do this job."

When put to Levein that both sides need the three points from this match, he said: "Agreed. And that makes it even more exciting, doesn't it?"

Scott Brown, James Forrest and Andy Webster did not train with the rest of the squad earlier today, before their arrival in Wales.

Celtic skipper Brown has been struggling with an ongoing hip injury, but Levein expects him to be fit for the match and is hopeful that Forrest and Webster will recover from what he described as niggles.

The manager is also confident about Darren Fletcher's ability to feature against both the Welsh and Belgium next week, as the skipper prepares to make his return following a lengthy spell on the sidelines with a chronic bowel complaint.

Levein said: "When Sir Alex thinks that Darren is capable of starting for Manchester United, then that tells me that he's back to the point where he is capable of playing in any situation.

"He has played some big games for Manchester United since he came back from illness.

"I've been in constant contact with him for the last year or so and I feel he's ready to go. He feels he's ready to go and his club feels he's ready to go - so I take it he's ready to go."

As well as Darren Fletcher, Steven Fletcher has also made a dramatic return to the Scotland fold after an exile of almost two years having resolved his differences with Levein, while Brown is involved after his hip problem kept him out of the last squad.

Levein said: "I look at the inclusion of Steven Fletcher, Darren Fletcher and Scott Brown, and although we've lost Robert Snodgrass which is a blow, to have someone of the quality of Kris Commons to come in shows we have real strength in depth.

"Training has been excellent this week and I think every time you add a quality player it raises the bar."

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