Belfast Telegraph

Republic of Ireland v Scotland: I'm going for the win, it's the only approach I know - Gordon Strachan

By Ronnie Esplin

Gordon Strachan insists he will send his Scotland team out for victory against Republic of Ireland today because he knows no other way.

Shaun Maloney's strike separated the two teams when they met in their European Championship qualifier at Celtic Park in November, and the Scots go into the return game at the Aviva Stadium two points clear of Martin O'Neill's men, level with second-placed Germany and one point behind Group D leaders Poland.

Asked about the notion of a draw being a decent result for his side, the Scots boss said: "I can't remember any manager telling me - and I am going back 40 years - that this is the way you play for a draw.

"I don't think I have tried it myself. Try to win the game and see what happens after that.

"Would I take a draw? There will be point added somewhere along the line but you don't know the points total you have to achieve. So you play the game and you get your point, or three points or no points and get on with it.

"It might have no relevance to where we end up or it might be important, you never know

"All we try to do is perform as we have done in every tie so far.

"If we can get that and for some reason don't get the points we are after then so be it, we move on to the next game.

"But at this moment in time, it is excitement that surrounds the camp and I sense it is going to be an occasion."

The former Celtic boss played down the possible absence of Republic midfielder Aiden McGeady, who is a doubt after missing training due to a hamstring problem. Strachan, who was boss of McGeady during his time at Parkhead, said: "They have got loads of good players. If you look at their squad and picked a team, maybe all of them are Premier League players or have been top Premier League players, so I don't think they are short of good players. I don't think any one player on either side would affect the outcome of the game tomorrow.

"The two squads have good players but what they have achieved is through excellent team work.

"Neither side has a Gareth Bale, a Ronaldo and we don't have a Messi who can change the game on their own or take a game by the scruff of the neck and cause havoc.

"Everything the two squads have achieved has been through hard work and good players but not that world class player."

Strachan's assessment of Charlie Mulgrew's fitness suggested there could be a place for the player, equally as comfortable in defence as in midfield.

The Celtic player was out for five months due to a hamstring tendon injury, returning for the last two league games before playing in the friendly against Qatar at Easter Road last week.

Strachan said: "He is like Alan Hutton, some of his Alan's best Scottish performances came when he was not in Aston Villa's squad. Plus when you come back from an injury you have four or five games that you run on adrenaline.

"Charlie has looked fantastic."

Belfast Telegraph