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STRACHAN WILL HOPE FOR CHAMPIONS’ TOUCH

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GORDON STRACHAN watched his Scotland side settle for a 1-1 draw with Canada in the friendly watched by barely 9,000 fans at Easter Road tonight.

And the international manager will be hoping his players will be able to up the pace when they face Slovenia in the crucial World Cup qualifier at Hampden on Sunday.

At least, Strachan will have an injection of Celtic players for the confrontation where three points are a must.

The national coach kept his word and left out five of the Celtic contingent who had played for the Hoops in the 2-1 win over Dundee at Dens Park on Sunday.

Craig Gordon, Kieran Tierney, Scott Brown, Stuart Armstrong and James Forrest watched the action from the stand.

Leigh Griffiths, who was an unused sub on Tayside, had to wait until the 62nd minute until he was given the nod to go on for Steven Naismith, who scored the Scots’ only goal.

The Hoops hitman, in fact, came so close to setting up the winner in the fading moments when he flashed over a left-wing cross for fellow-sub Jordan Rhodes smack in front of goal.

Amazingly, the Sheffield Wednesday attacker miscued from two yards and the chance was lost.

It was never going to be a spectacular, but the Scots were jolted out of their early lethargy when Falkirk’s Fraser Aird fired the Canadians ahead.

In the 11th minute, left-back Lee Wallace made a mess of dealing with a left-wing cross as he knocked the ball against a startled Charlie Mulgrew.

It fell perfectly for Aird who steered an unstoppable effort wide of the helpless Allan McGregor.

Scotland levelled, though, through Naismith shortly after Robert Snodgrass had hit the upright.

In the 35th minute, Fulham debutant Tom Cairney had his shot deflected by the Norwich City forward past keeper Simon Thomas.

Chris Martin looked slow and heavy in attack and the Scots fans might have expected the introduction of Griffiths at the interval.

However, he had to wait until after the hour mark before coming on for his 11th cap for his country.

Now all eyes are on Hampden at the weekend as Strachan’s men once again walk the World Cup tightrope.

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