Scots lack midfield core, says pundit Pat Nevin

Scotland defender Gary Caldwell and manager Craig Levein

Scotland's World Cup prospects have suffered a blow because they lack their "core," according to Pat Nevin.

Speaking after the draw with Macedonia, the Sportscene pundit said absent captain Darren Fletcher and Scott Brown were crucial.

"If one of them is missing, it's bad news; when two of them are missing then it's incredibly difficult," Nevin said.

"Get them back for the games from here on in then there's a chance Scotland can go on a right good run."

Fletcher is sidelined with a chronic bowel condition and Brown is out with a hip injury.

Scotland coach Craig Levein asked Gary Caldwell and James Morrison to play in central midfield roles, but Nevin said the team had suffered as a result.

"Craig mentioned the fact that there was a lack of balance in the team just now," Nevin said.

"The balance comes down to two players for me. Gary Caldwell and tonight it was James Morrison to be central midfield players.

"In actual fact, Darren Fletcher and Scott Brown are the centre and core of the Scotland team.

"If one of them is missing it's bad news; when two of them are missing then it's incredibly difficult.

"Get them back for the games from here on in then there's a chance Scotland can go on a right good run.

"But, the longer we go before starting that good run, the less likely it is we'll go through."

Frustrated supporters booed at stages during the game and at full-time.

"The Tartan Army and the fans are not easily conned," said Nevin. "They know that that's not going to be good enough; what we've seen tonight won't be good enough to get through to the World Cup finals.

"But Craig is right to say we're not out of it yet. It would be ridiculous to say that. I have to say, Macedonia surprised me.

"They were a better side than I thought they'd be and moved the ball about neatly. I suspect they may not win the group, but they'll take some surprising points off of some teams.

"We were outclassed in the first half-hour or so. The goal was offside, but if you're going to give the advantage to the attacker now and again, you can't complain about it too much.

"They probably deserved their goal as they were that far ahead. It would've been nice to have gotten at least four points from six, but we are where we are.

"There were periods when we couldn't get a kick of the ball.

"They're 97th in the rankings, which is a nonsense. But it was scary to be so outclassed by a team that low down the rankings."

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