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By ESPN Staff

Ferguson confident and World Cup kick-off nears

Barry Ferguson has backed Scotland to literally handle the heat in their World Cup qualifying opener against Macedonia on Saturday.

George Burley's men are bracing themselves for temperatures approaching 100 degrees Fahrenheit when they kick off their campaign in Skopje, before travelling to Iceland four days later.

Scotland will travel to Macedonia on Friday, allowing Burley to make full use of training sessions in Scotland, but leaving little time for the players to acclimatise ahead of the game.

But Ferguson insisted: 'It's an experienced squad and I'm sure most of the guys who are going to start, or be involved in the game, have played in similar temperatures or even worse.

'I don't see that being a problem for the players.

'It's always important in the first game to get a win. We know, and have read in the papers, that Macedonia are a half-decent team and it's a difficult place to go to.

'We know it will be a difficult game but I'm sure, with the squad that we've got, that we can get the three points.'

Ferguson has targeted a return to the national team in November, meaning he will miss the first home game against Norway on October 11, as well as the impending double-header.

The skipper, who is recovering from an ankle operation, admits it will be frustrating to watch the action from the sidelines but has backed his team-mates to get the campaign off to a positive start.

'Of course it's a big disappointment missing out, especially at the start of the campaign,' he said.

'It's a game you always want to be involved in so I'm disappointed but hopefully the guys can go away and get a good start to the campaign.

'We were so near to getting to the European Championships.

'It's a difficult group, we all know that, but with the squad and players we've got I'm confident we can get through to the World Cup.

'I think October will come a bit too soon for me but, with the friendly being in November, I'm sure I'll be fit to play in that game.

'I've got a lot of hard work in the next six to eight weeks, I need to get my strength back in my calf and my ankle.

'But hopefully I'll get a few reserve games in October and hopefully I'll be fit to lead Scotland out again in November.'


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