Five miss out for Scots

Stewart, Weir and Alexander drafted in

Burley: Hit by squad withdrawals

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Scotland manager George Burley has suffered five withdrawals ahead of Wednesday's friendly international against Northern Ireland.

Celtic duo Paul Hartley and Gary Caldwell are out less than 24 hours after taking part in the 1-1 draw with Dundee United in the SPL.

Cardiff pair Gavin Rae and Kevin McNaughton are also out, along with Preston's Callum Davidson who had been recalled to the squad after earning his last cap in 2002.

Burnley's Graham Alexander, Rangers defender David Weir and Hearts midfielder Michael Stewart have been drafted into the squad with further additions likely.

These call-offs are the latest blow for Burley who saw his last two squads for games against Croatia and the Czech Republic decimated by withdrawals.

Assistant manager Terry Butcher attempted to make light of the absentees, joking: "We only have five this time, usually it's eight or nine.

"Five withdrawals isn't bad - George is pretty pleased with that!

Disappointing

"It is disappointing because it is the early part of the season and you would look to have all your players available when preparing for a World Cup qualifier.

"All have genuine injuries and are struggling to play and the doctors have had a look at them.

"George has probably gone through a few teams in his head that he would like to have played so it is disappointing.

"We are just looking to do well in front of our own fans and hopefully get the win."

Maturing

Scotland coach Steven Pressley played alongside Stewart during his first spell at Hearts and believes the midfielder has made an impressive start to the season.

"It's very early in the season but George went to see him against Motherwell a fortnight ago and he did extremely well," said Pressley.

"I watched the game against Rangers and he was on top of his game again.

"He is maturing as a player and we felt it was right to introduce him and give him an opportunity."