Scotland v Slovakia: Callum McGregor says squad is ‘happy and together’


Callum McGregor has backed Scotland to carry on the momentum from their success over IsraelVenue: Hampden Stadium, Glasgow Date: Sun, 11 Oct Kick-off: 19:45 BSTCoverage: Live on BBC Radio Scotland and online.Midfielder Callum McGregor is confident Scotland will not struggle to rouse themselves for Nations League duty after the jubilation of their “big moment” against Israel.Steve Clarke’s side host Slovakia on Sunday, three days after a penalty shootout win earned them a Euro 2020 play-off final in Serbia next month.Scotland top Nations League Group B2 with four points from two games.McGregor said the squad has “a real sense of happiness and togetherness”.The Celtic midfielder, 27, added: “I am hoping it goes the other way and everyone will be fresh.”The boys bounced on to the training pitch on Saturday morning probably feeling better than they would have done if they had lost the game.”It was a big moment for the players and probably the first success the group has had together.”Slovakia, who edged past the Republic of Ireland on penalties on Thursday to secure a European Championship play-off against Northern Ireland, are bottom of the section after back-to-back defeats.Nations League still ‘worth it’ – ClarkeU21 captain McCrorie joins call-upsSlovakia & Czechs depleted by positive testsTeam newsAberdeen midfielder Ross McCrorie and defender Andy Considine, as well as Hibernian full-back Paul McGinn, have been given their first Scotland call-ups for the Slovakia match and Czech Republic game three days later.The hosts remain without midfielder Stuart Armstrong, who tested positive for Covid-19, and forward Ryan Christie and full-back Kieran Tierney who are self-isolating having been in close proximity.Injured defenders Liam Palmer and Scott McKenna, plus striker Oliver Burke, also withdrew from the squad before the Israel game.Slovakia winger Jaroslav Mihalik and defender Milan Skriniar miss out after positive Covid-19 tests. Midfielder Stanislav Lobotka is another absentee as he is in quarantine with his Napoli team-mates.What the managers sayScotland head coach Steve Clarke: “Slovakia are a good team, good players and like ourselves missing one or two players who might have been starting for them and they also had 120 minutes the other night and a penalty shoot-out.”Maybe they will make one or two changes, I believe they have just lost another player to Covid-19 so that is an on-going situation for every country which we have to deal with.”Slovakia coach Pavel Hapal: “We’re expecting Scotland to be a little bit tired as well. However, they managed to play lots of good games with lots of physical and almost aggressive games sometimes.”So they know that when they need to push their players they are able to do so. We will do their best to show all the abilities we have and we believe that it’s going to be very good game and the main thing would be to bring some points home.”What the stats sayScotland and Slovakia’s only previous meetings were in 2018 World Cup qualifying, with both sides picking up a home victory.In the only previous meeting between Scotland and Slovakia at Hampden Park, the Scots won 1-0 with the winner an 89th minute own goal by defender Martin Skrtel.Scotland have won four of their six Nations League games (D1 L1), finding the net in all six matches, although they’ve only kept two clean sheets.Slovakia are yet to win away from home in the Nations League (D1 L2), while failing to score in two of their three games on the road (just one away goal in total).John McGinn has scored seven goals in his last seven starts across all competitions for Scotland, with all but one of those coming at Hampden Park. Top Gear is back: Freddy, Chris and Paddy visit Paddy’s home town of BoltonSurgeons: Meet the world-leading surgeons pushing the boundaries of science
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