Scotland places up for grabs, says Gordon Strachan

Scotland manager Gordon Strachan
Scotland manager Gordon Strachan believes Wednesday's friendly 'will have an intensity to it'
Scotland v Northern Ireland
Venue: Hampden Park, Glasgow Date: Wednesday, 25 March
Coverage: Live on BBC Radio Scotland, live text coverage on BBC Sport website

Places are available in Scotland's starting line-up for Sunday's Euro 2016 qualifier against Gibraltar, according to manager Gordon Strachan.

Scotland warm up with a Hampden friendly against Northern Ireland on Wednesday.

"I never pick a team that far ahead," said Strachan. "You have an idea but anything can happen in the squad.

"You can visualise how you want to play but you don't have the players in your head until the last minute."

Strachan is pleased to be back at the national stadium, which was unavailable for the home qualifying wins against Georgia and the Republic of Ireland following its use in the Commonwealth Games.

And he says he wants to use the depth of his squad.

"Over the two games, I'm hoping to get everybody some time on the pitch," he explained.

"At this stage of the season we need to make sure we send everyone back to their clubs as fit as they were when they came. That's a hard balancing act.

"We want to send them back positive as well."

Scotland were last in action in a November double-header with Republic of Ireland and England and Strachan expects a similar, derby-style encounter on Wednesday.

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Media conference - Scotland coach Gordon Strachan

He said: "Looking at the intensity of the training, you got to the stage where you think 'calm down a bit'.

"People are telling me they are all tired, people are telling me they have played 40 games - but they are running about non-stop.

"You actually have to stop the training because if you let them go on they would continue on another half-hour.

"I was asking players if they wanted to step out but, no, they are not having it.

"If we can take what we had this morning into tomorrow, then I will be more than happy.

"I don't think they have even thought about this as a friendly. There will be an intensity to the game."

Strachan was tight-lipped on his choice of captain and goalkeeper, saying there are no fitness worries beyond the withdrawal of Fulham forward Ross McCormack at the weekend.

The manager, who made his international debut against Northern Ireland and won three more caps against Wednesday's opposition, believes creating a "club ethos" has helped Scotland as they bid to reach a first major finals since 1998.

"I think that will benefit us," said the former Celtic and Coventry boss. "If we can replicate the same thing, with the same system and the same players, then they become familiar with what we are trying to do. That can only help us improve."

Scotland's remaining Euro 2016 qualifiers
Gibraltar (h) 29 March 2015; (a) 11 October 2015
Poland (h) 8 October 2015
Republic of Ireland (a) 13 June 2015
Georgia (a) 4 September 2015
Germany (h) 7 September 2015

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