Scotland v Wales preview: Bale set to feature in World Cup qualifier
Last Updated: March 22, 2013 7:42pm
Gareth Bale: Inspired Wales to a 2-1 home victory over Scotland earlier in the campaign
Gordon Strachan takes charge of his first competitive match for Scotland in a Celtic battle against Wales at Hampden Park on Friday night.
Strachan was given the reins in January after Craig Levein paid the price for a poor start to the World Cup qualification campaign which has left Scotland bottom of Group A with just two points from four games.
A 1-0 victory over Estonia in a February friendly provided Strachan with an encouraging start to his tenure, but the hard works begins now with a double-header which also includes a trip to Serbia next Tuesday.
Strachan is relishing the challenge and believes his players are well prepared to make amends for a 2-1 defeat in Wales earlier in the season.
Gareth Bale netted a spectacular late winner in that fixture and will again be the centre of most of the focus at Hampden Park if, as expected, he is fit to start after a slight fitness concern this week.
Dundee interim manager John Brown has controversially suggested that Scotland should 'cancel out' Bale as he 'cannot run without legs', and Wales boss Chris Coleman has admitted it is important to have a strong referee.
Coleman is a man under pressure as Wales appear to be out of contention for a spot at the World Cup despite their thrilling home win over Scotland.
Wales have lost their three other Group A games, including a 6-1 thrashing at the hands of Serbia, and are already seven points adrift of joint leaders Belgium and Croatia.
A home game against Croatia follows the fixture in Glasgow and Coleman will be looking for some positive signs to take forward into the remainder of the campaign.
Scotland have been hit by a number of withdrawals ahead of kick-off after James Morrison joined Ross McCormack, James Forrest and Danny Fox in pulling out from the original squad.
Barry Bannan and Stephen Whittaker have been called up to join the group and are in contention to feature, along with the uncapped George Boyd, Liam Bridcutt and Gary Mackay-Steven.
Gary Caldwell will captain the side in the absence of Darren Fletcher, while Sunderland's Steven Fletcher is set to lead the line.
Wales manager Coleman is hopeful that Bale will be fit to start for Wales as he recovers from a virus, while the Tottenham star has also had a minor ankle knock this week.
However, Liverpool midfielder Joe Allen has been ruled out after being sent for shoulder surgery and Steve Morison and David Vaughan are also sidelined.
Bristol City defender Lewin Nyatanga and Crystal Palace forward Jermaine Easter have been added to the squad this week.
Previous game's starting line-ups
- 21 Marshall
- 2 Hutton
- 5 Caldwell G
- 4 Hanley G
- 14 Whittaker
- 19 Boyd
- 8 McArthur
- 20 Bridcutt
- 10 Maloney
- 7 Naismith
- 9 Rhodes
Team taken from Scotland vs Serbia (FIFA World Cup European Qualifying) on Tuesday 26th March 2013
- 1 Myhill
- 2 Gunter
- 6 Williams A
- 5 Collins
- 3 Davies
- 4 Ledley
- 7 Williams J
- 10 King
- 8 Bellamy
- 9 Robson-Kanu
- 11 Bale
Team taken from Wales vs Croatia (FIFA World Cup European Qualifying) on Tuesday 26th March 2013