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Liverpool and Arsenal set for showdown

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Liverpool and Arsenal set for showdown

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By ESPN Staff

McLeish has no plans to quit

Alex McLeish has eased fears he is seeking a new challenge by insisting he will carry on as Scotland manager.

He had been linked with the vacancy at Birmingham following Steve Bruce's departure to Wigan, and the Scottish Football Association expect plenty of clubs to be sniffing around the 48-year-old.

But McLeish, though 'flattered' to be linked with various jobs, reassured the Tartan Army by stating his intention to carry on as Scotland boss and lead the team in their 2010 World Cup qualifying campaign.

He said: 'There's speculation about my future, I can't help that.

'I'm flattered by it, but at the same time I don't have any plans to leave this job at the moment.

'I know football is an unpredictable business and you never know, but I certainly don't have a plan to vacate my position.'

Speaking ahead of Scotland's B international against the Republic of Ireland, which takes place in Airdrie tomorrow, McLeish stressed he has never had a strategy for his career.

He is contracted to the SFA until the 2010 World Cup, and following the national team's exploits in pushing Italy and France all the way in their Euro 2008 qualifying group there are high hopes that Scotland will qualify for the finals in South Africa.

McLeish will fly out to the World Cup draw, which takes place in Durban on Sunday, and is set to discuss his position with SFA chief executive Gordon Smith.

The former Rangers boss does not intend to abandon his Scotland duties after 10 months in the job but confirmed he has relied on a policy of seeing where his career takes him and would not change now.

'Honestly I've never mapped out my career,' he said. 'I've kind of ad-libbed it, and that's I think the way it will continue.

'I didn't have any big, grand plans to be manager of Motherwell, Hibs and Rangers, and then the national team.

'It just fell into place and I guess the next step will be the same, whether it's with the national team through the World Cup or whether it's something else, but at the moment I don't plan to leave this job.'

McLeish and his players are resigned to several long months without competitive internationals.

The World Cup qualifiers are the next big matches on the horizon, and they will not start until next season.

McLeish admitted he does intend to return to club management at some stage, but did not give any timescale and is more focused on keeping his Scotland coaching staff intact.

'I'm comfortable in this role,' he said. 'The time in-between (matches) can be long.

'Yes the day-to-day stuff would be on my radar in future.

'I've got to think about guys like Andy Watson as well and Roy Aitken, they could get plucked, somebody could come and take them and I'd have to look for new staff because they're two brilliant coaches.

'And big Jim Stewart [goalkeeping coach] has gone to Rangers. I couldn't rule out someone taking Roy and Andy.'

McLeish's talks with Smith could prove to be more crucial than both have made out.

McLeish said: 'I'm sure we'll have a chat about loads of things.

'I'm pretty excited about the World Cup draw itself and just how the group stage unfolds.

'That's the only thing I'm concentrating on at the moment.'

McLeish would like Scotland to play in a tournament of some sort next summer, whether abroad or closer to home, in an event such as a Celtic Cup.

He said: 'Certainly there would be some kind of opportunity at the end of the season to do something, whether we go on tour or whether it's the Celtic Cup - I don't know how close that is.

'I'd certainly like to keep the momentum going, albeit it's friendlies and we don't have the marvellous experience of the competition that we've had over the last few months.

'We have to see what the invitations are and also have to be mindful of the hard seasons the players have had. They need a break as well.'