SCOTLAND boss Gordon Strachan has talked up the qualities of Barry Bannan and Darren Fletcher has he prepares for tonight’s crucial World Cup qualifier against Slovakia at Hampden.

Callum McGregor and John McGinn shared the goals in Celtic’s 2-2 draw against Hibs and many thought they would be in line to replace injured Hoops duo Scott Brown and Stuart Armstrong in the international team’s midfield.

However, Strachan said: “People are talking about John and Callum and their performances at the weekend.

“But some of the best performances I’ve seen in the last three weeks have come from Barry Bannan.

“That’s in different areas, different positions, as a sitting midfield player, on the left, across on the right at times. Mark McGhee feels the same. Everybody who has watched him thinks technically he has been wonderful. He has a great range of passing.

“We’ve all heard about the other two lads and rightly so. But Barry has been the best I’ve seen. He has been in my thoughts for the last three weeks.

“I have to take into account what position he is playing in at his club. Does it suit this game? There’s a lot involved, but what I’m saying is that it’s unfair to forget guys like Barry.

“Guys go overboard about the home players and forget what’s happening elsewhere. Only because they see the home players. I get about and see them all.

“Barry was picked in the Championship team of the year last year. He is playing even better this year.”

Strachan is also wary of picking a team which lacks height and Darren Fletcher would help to ensure they are not overpowered at free-kicks and corners.

He added: “You have to watch that. At the weekend, Sheffield Wednesday against Leeds United was decided by two headers. It was decided by who wants to jump the highest.

“So many games are decided on set-plays. You need to have a certain amount of height in the team.

“Darren has that. We don’t think we have to belt balls onto people’s head all day. It just comes in handy if you have a certain amount of height.”


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