Peru v Scotland: 'Golden incentive' for fringe players, says Alex McLeish

By Alasdair LamontBBC Scotland in Peru
'They are bursting to play for Scotland'
International friendly: Peru v Scotland
Venue: Estadio Nacional de Lima Date: Wednesday, 30 May Kick-off: 02:00 BST
Coverage: Live on BBC One Scotland & BBC Sport Scotland website

Scotland manager Alex McLeish wants his inexperienced squad to relish the white-hot atmospheres of Lima and Mexico City in upcoming friendlies.

Sell-out crowds are anticipated at Peru's Estadio Nacional and Mexico's iconic Azteca Stadium as the home teams finalise their World Cup preparations.

"My message to the players is 'embrace it, enjoy it'," said McLeish.

"It'll be some of the greatest moments of your career and indeed your whole life."

This is as close as Scotland will get to World Cup fever and although the teams McLeish selects may not be instantly recognisable, the manager says each player has a "golden incentive" to do well.

McLeish has had to throw this tour squad together, having agreed to give several of Celtic's double-treble winning team a break before losing half-a-dozen of the players he wanted to take to late withdrawals.

Liverpool's Andy Robertson has a Champions League final to look forward to and Fulham duo Tom Cairney and Kevin McDonald are in the Championship play-off final, where they face Aston Villa's Robert Snodgrass.

The result is a group of players with only 75 caps between them, 34 of which are held by Charlie Mulgrew, with Matt Phillips the only other member in double figures, with 11.

Charlie Mulgrew leads the way in training in Peru
Charlie Mulgrew leads the way in training as the Scotland squad adapt to the conditions in Peru

Those numbers are in stark contrast to the opposition, whose squads are vastly experienced. Yet McLeish asks: "Why be concerned?

"When you look at the squad, the players that have been picked have all been in excellent form this season.

"I know there's not a lot of them who are seasoned internationals but I don't think there's a lack of talent out there or a lack of legs."

McLeish says he understands why clubs have withdrawn players from the end-of-season tour and prefers to accentuate the positives by concentrating on those who have made the trip.

"I've got to compliment the guys who have come out," he said. "They are bursting to play for Scotland and we'll try to put on a good show and make it worthwhile for the Tartan Army that's here to support us."

McLeish's assistant James McFadden has already urged the uncapped members of the squad to make the most of their opportunity, a message the manager endorses.

Jordan Archer is one of the three uncapped goalkeepers in the Scotland squad
Jordan Archer is one of the three uncapped goalkeepers in the Scotland squad

"There's golden incentives for every single player who's here," he stressed.

"They have to have that desire and a tough mentality because they're going to be running out in front of really noisy fans in colossal stadiums. That can be unnerving.

"Let's ask them to go and express themselves and really enjoy it and not be fazed at all by going into these cauldrons."

A handful of players will feature in both games but McLeish will not ask anyone to play 180 minutes.

He says success on this trip will be coming home "with a couple of good results".

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