Scotland still need Scott Brown for World Cup hopes - Paul Hartley

Scotland midfielder Scott Brown
Scott Brown won his 51st Scotland cap at Wembley

Scotland can still qualify for the 2018 World Cup in Russia with Scott Brown featuring for the national side, according to Paul Hartley.

Brown, 31, came out of international retirement to feature in the qualifying defeat by England in November, with the Scots struggling in Group F.

Dundee boss Hartley, who won 25 Scotland caps, insists a play-off place remains a realistic possibility.

"You'd like to see Scott finish the [qualifying] campaign," he said.

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Players emerging for Scotland - Hartley

Brown, who has earned 51 caps, decided to return to the Scotland fold in an effort to revive their World Cup qualification campaign.

However, he was unable to prevent a 3-0 defeat at Wembley as the Scots slipped to second bottom of the group on four points, six behind leaders England.

He has yet to confirm whether he will continue to make himself available for selection for Gordon Strachan's side.

"He's having a fantastic season again and he looks strong and fit," said former midfielder Hartley. "It looks like he's over his injuries - he's a key player for Scotland.

Stuart Armstrong (left) and Barrie McKay
Stuart Armstrong (left) and Barrie McKay have impressed Hartley

"There's no room for error and we need to win as many games as we can. And it's important we have our best players available; if Scott's available then that's an added bonus for us."

Regarding Scotland's World Cup qualification campaign, Hartley said: "It's been a slow start but we've still got a chance. We've got to get behind the manager and the team."

Celtic midfielder Stuart Armstrong and Rangers winger Barrie McKay could come into contention for Scotland's next World Cup qualifier against Slovenia at Hampden in March, Hartley added.

"The form of Stuart this year and Barrie McKay. You've got Matt Phillips at West Brom - we've still got enough good players here," said Hartley, who scored his only international goal against Slovenia in 2005.

"Stuart's having an outstanding season, as is Barrie. Last season Stuart didn't feature a lot but you look at the transformation in the player since Brendan Rodgers has come in [at Celtic] - he's a player in great form who is scoring goals.

"He's a box-to-box midfielder who is having a brilliant season. Same as Barrie, who had an outstanding game against Celtic in the Old Firm derby, he's a player on form. It's important we've got good players in form coming into the Slovenian game."

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