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McLEISH PLEA TO TARTAN ARMY

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ALEX McLEISH has urged the Tartan Army to rally round Scotland as they prepare for Tuesday evening’s crucial UEFA Nations League crunch against Israel at Hampden.

It’s a must-win situation for the Scots following their excellent 4-0 victory over 10-man Albania in Shkoder last night.

Despite having an injury-ravaged squad with NINE call-offs, Big Eck’s men triumphed to take them to within 90 minutes of a play-off spot.

Bournemouth winger Ryan Fraser claimed his first goal for his country with the 14th-minute opener before Albanian skipper Mergim Mavraj lost the plot and was sent off in the 22nd minute.

The defender hauled down Celtic raider James Forrest with a crude challenge that was about to earn him a booking from Russian match official Vladislav Bezborodov.

Inexplicably, Mavraj then headbutted Ryan Christie and was immediately red-carded by the referee.

The Scots were awarded a penalty-kick on the stroke of half-time when the whistler adjudged there was a handball and comeback striker Steven Fletcher neatly tucked the ball low into the left-hand corner of the net.

On-fire Forrest then took over in the second-half with two superb finishes as he, like Fraser, opened his international account in his 25th appearance.

SCOTLAND THE RAVE…two-goal James Forrest is congratulated by Callum McGregor in Albania last night.

A win against the Israelis will secure a play-off spot for the 2020 European Championship and McLeish is looking for a massive crowd at the national stadium to roar on his players.

He said: “We always try to win, so we have set ourselves up, as have Israel, and it should be a good game.

“We are at home, so let’s hope there is a response from the Tartan Army. We’d like the supporters to come to cheer the guys to victory.

“If we play to that level again then we have a good chance.”

McLeish added: “We’ve always known what we had to do. The win gives us a fantastic fillip going into the game on Tuesday against a decent team.

“They played very well against us last time, but we probably allowed them to. Now we have to stop and nullify the threat of Moanes Dabour, who has been scoring freely in the domestic league and the Europa League.

“We do have a job on our hands, a good challenge, and with that performance against Albania the players have to be super confident, but not overconfident.”

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Editor

Acclaimed author Alex Gordon wrote the biography of Scotland international legend Denis Law, entitled 'King and Country'. He is a former columnist with World Soccer magazine and Scottish correspondent of respected European journal L'Equipe.

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