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European Qualifiers Group D

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European Qualifiers Group D

McCall wary of Croatia depth

Scotland coach Stuart McCall has warned his side not to underestimate Croatia if they rest key players for Tuesday's final World Cup qualifier.

Last Updated: 13/10/13 at 15:52 Post Comment

Stuart McCall: Knows Croatia will want to enter play-offs with a win

Stuart McCall: Knows Croatia will want to enter play-offs with a win

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Croatia are guaranteed a play-off place after Belgium secured top spot in Group A with their 2-1 victory at the Maksimir Stadium in Zagreb on Friday.

Vedran Corluka, Luka Modric, Mario Mandzukic, Niko Kranjcar, Nikica Jelavic, Gordon Schildenfeld, Ivan Strinic, Eduardo and Ognjen Vukojevic are all on yellow cards and would miss the first leg of the play-off if they were cautioned at Hampden Park.

Igor Stimac is also without Josip Simunic, Sime Vrsaljko, Mateo Kovacic and Ivan Rakitic, but McCall is aware that Croatia will be determined to go into the play-off on a winning note.

"As a manager you want to go into the play-offs on the back of a good result," said the Motherwell boss. "There is no doubt about that.

"You want to be going into the play-offs on the back of a positive result. There are a lot of key individuals on yellow cards and if they were to pick another one up they would miss the first game of the play-offs.

"It depends on the individual. If you look at the likes of Modric, you think, is he a hot-head? Is he sensible enough to think 'I am not going to get myself in a situation'?

"Then you look at centre-half Corluka. He has to win his headers and win his tackles so it is difficult. But if you look at Friday night, they still had a lot of good players on the bench.

"Niko Kranjcar came off the bench to score, Ivica Olic was on the bench, there were other star names like Eduardo, so they have a strong squad.

"I am not so sure that making three or four changes will weaken them that much, with the strength and depth that they have got. Again, the coach is experienced, he will make that call."

Scotland snatched 2-1 win over Macedonia in Skopje in their last game and also beat Croatia in June, while the performances in their defeats to Belgium and England were also encouraging.

But McCall added: "You don't want to get carried away because sometimes one bad result can take the wheels off again.

"I thought we played really well in Macedonia and dominated the game.

"But they got back to 1-1 with 10 minutes to go and if they had got a late goal rather than us, it would have changed the whole complexion and mood of the country and the team, it would have been a bit more doom and gloom.

"Without getting carried away, the training sessions have been good and everyone wants to be here, which they should do.

"To get Scott Brown back in the middle of the park has been key and James Morrison has come back in. You look around the squad and consider the players who aren't here through injuries etc, and if we can get everyone together we have a strong unit."

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