BILLY DODDS has said that Gordon Strachan will be ‘kicking himself’ by not starting Leigh Griffiths at the start of the campaign, which he attributed as the reason that the Scots didn’t qualify.

The former-Rangers and Dundee United man gave his thoughts to BBC Radio Scotland Sportsound on why he felt Scotland fell short after the 2-2 draw away to Slovenia.

Dodds, who made 26 appearances for Scotland, reckons that the play-offs would’ve been achieved with the 27-year-old leading the line.

“If Leigh Griffiths had started the campaign we probably would have qualified.

“There were things not right at the start of the campaign, and that’s what cost us.

“It is cruel, but we are close.”

Griffiths was omitted from the starting XI that faced Lithuania, Slovakia and Malta, which Scotland took only four points from. Dodds, who scored seven times for Scotland, accepted that Scotland are getting nearer and the ill-fated start to the campaign cost qualification.

“Are the performance levels good? Yes, they were at the end of the campaign, but the start was so poor that we left ourselves a lot to do. Were we close to qualifying? Yes, but we fall short on every occasion.

“I’m not saying Gordon Strachan should stay or go, but we need to judge where we’re at. The form we’re in is good.

“If we bin another manager and go back the way – now we could get it right and end up qualifying – but if we go back the way we’re in real trouble. The players believe in the manager, we went close, a couple of games let us down.

Dodds gave his opinion as to where he felt the Scots had to strengthen and improve if they are to make a major tournament, which has been elusive since the World Cup in 1998.

“I don’t think we’re as bad as it’s been. The game there against Lithuania, for the first time we had blistering pace in the front three. We’re still searching for two top-quality, commanding centre-backs.

“We are not too far away. We can’t clamber onto ‘let’s get rid of another manager’. We’ve got a group of players who are close to qualifying.

“Gordon Strachan made mistakes and he’ll be the first to put his hand up and say he made mistakes, Leigh Griffiths being one of them. But at the end of it all, we are progressing as a nation and it’s probably the best group of players we’ve seen for a long time.”

Gordon Strachan faces a meeting at Hampden with SFA today, where his future will be decided.


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