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 Posted by ESPN Staff
May 8, 2008

Burley admits burn-out fears for Scots' players

Scotland manager George Burley fears Rangers' gruelling season could have a detrimental effect on the national team as preparations begin for the World Cup qualifiers.

Burley named a 23-man squad at Hampden yesterday to face Czech Republic on May 30 and took the opportunity to condemn the Scottish Premier League's handling of the fixture row with the Ibrox side.

Last night's 1-0 Clydesdale Bank Premier League win against Motherwell was the first of seven matches Rangers will play between now and May 24 and club bosses are furious the SPL have refused to extend the season further to boost their hopes of a historic quadruple.

And Burley has concerns a taxing run of games between now and the end of the campaign could take its toll for both club and country, with Gers stars Christian Dailly, Steven Whittaker, Kevin Thomson and Kris Boyd named in the squad for the trip to Prague.

'What I'm worried about is the number of games these players are playing,' he said.

'For an individual to be asked to do that, he's not going to be at peak performance in every game and more liable to get injured.

'If players have played too many games beforehand it will definitely hinder their performance for the national team.'

Skipper Barry Ferguson, Allan McGregor, Lee McCulloch and David Weir were all omitted from Burley's squad to allow a period of recovery from injury and fatigue.

And the Scotland boss will assess over the coming weeks what contribution veteran defender Weir, 38 this week, will make to the national team cause ahead of a new qualification campaign.

'We'll see how he's looking in the summer,' Burley said.

'David has been absolutely outstanding this season with his experience, knowledge and appetite.

'He wants to keep playing and has hardly missed a game and has formed a formidable partnership with Carlos Cuellar.

'We've got a youthful squad with 16 players who are 26 or under, five uncapped so it gives me a chance to look to some of the younger ones.

'Ross McCormack has had a very good season at Motherwell and has done very well in the Under-21s and we've progressed him to the senior squad.

'Steven Fletcher played 45 minutes against Croatia. He's been a regular in the SPL this season and is a player who has a big future in the game. Ross is maybe not at that stage yet but we'll have a look at him in the squad.'

After the visit to the Czech Republic, Scotland will host Northern Ireland at Hampden in August before their World Cup qualifying campaign begins in earnest away to Macedonia in September.

Burley added: 'Sometimes you get criticised for playing a friendly international but we're trying to keep it short.

'Wales have got three games, the Republic of Ireland have got two games plus get-togethers. I don't want too many games but you need some preparation.

'We've got two games between now and the Macedonia game and I felt it would be good if we could get a good game against top opposition.

'We weren't sure what was going to happen with the Old Firm, whether they were going on tour or not, so we're pleased to have a good squad that will put in a good performance against a top European side.'