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Tuesday, 19 August 2008

Five players have withdrawn from the Scotland squad to face Northern Ireland in Wednesday's friendly at Hampden, reports BBC Sport.

Celtic duo Gary Caldwell and Paul Hartley have joined Cardiff City's Kevin McNaughton and Gavin Rae on the sidelines for George Burley's side.

Preston full-back Callum Davidson - who received a first call-up in six years - is the fifth player to withdraw.

Hearts midfielder Michael Stewart, Rangers' Davie Weir and Burnley's Graham Alexander have been called-up.

Scotland assistant manager Terry Butcher was keen to put a brave face on the spate of call-offs.

"We only have five this time, usually it's eight or nine. Five withdrawals isn't bad - George is pretty pleased with that," he said.
"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. The doctors have had a look at them."

Scotland coach Steven Pressley said he had high hopes for Hearts midfielder Michael Stewart.

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

Northern Ireland skipper Aaron Hughes, Kyle Lafferty and George McCartney are also out of the Hampden encounter.

The call-offs are a blow to Burley as he continues his preparations for next month's opening 2010 World Cup qualifier against Macedonia in Skopje.

Scotland Squad

Goalkeepers: Craig Gordon (Sunderland), David Marshall (Norwich City), Allan McGregor (Rangers).

Defenders: Graham Alexander (Burnley), Darren Barr (Falkirk), Christophe Berra (Hearts), Stephen McManus (Celtic), Gary Naysmith (Sheffield United), David Weir (Rangers), Steven Whittaker (Rangers),

Midfielders: Scott Brown (Celtic), Kris Commons (Derby County), Darren Fletcher (Manchester United), James Morrison (West Bromwich Albion), Barry Robson (Celtic), Michael Stewart (Heart of Midlothian), Kevin Thomson (Rangers).

Forwards: Kris Boyd (Rangers), David Clarkson (Motherwell), Steven Fletcher (Hibernian), James McFadden (Birmingham City), Kenny Miller (Rangers).

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