Scotland host Slovenia in their latest World Cup qualifier on Sunday aiming to cut a four-point gap on their second-placed visitors in Group F.
Here, we look at some of the key talking points ahead of the Hampden clash.
Last chance saloon for Gordon Strachan?
The manager has admitted Sunday is a “must-win” game for Scotland’s qualifying hopes – and presumably for his reign. The Scottish Football Association board met to discuss his position after November’s 3-0 defeat by England left Scotland in fifth place. The conclusion was that disruption would do little for their hopes of getting back into the hunt for a play-off place but failure to narrow the deficit is likely to spark a recruitment search with Euro 2020 in mind.
None of the three strikers who have started so far in the tournament – Steven Fletcher, Chris Martin and Leigh Griffiths – have regularly played for their clubs in recent months while Steven Naismith normally plays in a deeper role. Jordan Rhodes earned a surprise recall after keeping Fletcher out of the Sheffield Wednesday team but Strachan has never been a big fan of the goal-poacher. Martin looked less than sharp during the midweek draw with Canada and there is no obvious solution against a team who have kept clean sheets in their last three qualifiers.
Where’s the Hampden roar?
The atmosphere inside the Mount Florida stadium has always been one of Scotland’s major weapons but expectations are of a lower-than-normal crowd. With the feelgood factor missing and ticket prices of £40 in the North Stand, the Tartan Army regulars’ preferred spot, there is no danger of a sell-out. The Scotland players will have to start well to generate some vocal enthusiasm.
Let’s hear it for the Bhoys
Assistant manager Mark McGhee hinted there would be a major influx of Celtic players into the team after most were rested for the Canadian friendly. Scotland hope to benefit from the positivity and confidence among the Parkhead contingent, who are unbeaten in domestic football this season. Craig Gordon, Kieran Tierney, Scott Brown, Stuart Armstrong, James Forrest and Griffiths could all feature at some stage.
Ten players have started in goal and the back four in Scotland’s four qualifiers and they have yet to keep a clean sheet. Losing six goals in the last two group games, and injury to Grant Hanley, mean more changes are inevitable. Charlie Mulgrew could become the 11th to feature at the back after returning to fitness and Strachan will hope the Blackburn player’s composure will rub off on his defensive colleagues.