Scotland: Alex McLeish wants younger players to bring 'swagger'

Scotland manager Alex McLeish at Hampden Park
McLeish opens his second spell as Scotland boss against Costa Rica at Hampden on Friday

Manager Alex McLeish wants to see Scotland play with "swagger" as he prepares for a friendly double-header with Costa Rica and Hungary.

McLeish has nine uncapped players in his squad as he begins a second spell in charge of the national side.

"We have a good group of young players and if they play the way they can, then good performances will come," said the 59-year-old.

"They have to be gallus, if you like, really believe in themselves."

McLeish has named experienced Blackburn Rovers defender Charlie Mulgrew as his captain for Friday's meeting with Costa Rica at Hampden.

But the addition of players like Manchester United midfielder Scott McTominay, Aberdeen defender Scott McKenna and in-form Barnsley striker Oli McBurnie, all 21, has given the squad a youthful look.

"I've felt in recent years that perhaps we haven't had that swagger," added McLeish.

"Very often when you have young guys coming in they can play with no inhibitions whatsoever and maybe then a part of your career comes along when you start thinking about everything.

"I want them to be clear in their minds, that there is only one mission here, and that's to play at their top level.

"I don't think that's the only difference we want to try to make. We went through the last year undefeated and we were so close to the play-offs, but we have got to find a way to go one better than that."

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Despite finishing the campaign with a run of six games without a loss, Scotland fell short of reaching the play-offs for this summer's World Cup finals and have not been at a major tournament in 20 years.

Costa Rica, who beat Scotland at the 1990 World Cup, will be in Russia after finishing second behind Mexico in the Concacaf section.

Asked if a good performance was more important than a victory against the Central Americans in Glasgow, McLeish said: "I think performance is very, very important.

"Let's not kid ourselves, we can't create a team who play like Barcelona.

"We do have some very good players but we also have to play to our strengths."

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