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Apr 1, 2009

Scotland's dropped duo benched after apologising

Rangers pair Barry Ferguson and Allan McGregor will be on the bench for Scotland's World Cup qualifier against Iceland after apologising for a breach of discipline.

• Pair condemned by fans and peers It is understood the duo were involved in a drinking session at Scotland's Loch Lomond base after they returned from Saturday's 3-0 defeat by Holland in Amsterdam. "Due to a breach of team discipline, they will not play," a Scottish Football Association spokesman has confirmed, adding that they would feature on the bench. It is alleged that Ferguson, 31 and McGregor, 27, carried on drinking in front of guests at the Cameron House Hotel hours after their team-mates had drifted off to their rooms, much to George Burley's anger. Ferguson failed to appear at Tuesday's press conference at Dumbarton as Burley hinted at ''big decisions'' to be made with regards team selection. The incident throws into disarray Burley's plans for the crunch game for the Scots who need all three points if they are to have a chance of qualifying for South Africa through the play-offs as a second-placed country. ''There's a lot of big decisions to be made,'' Burley said. ''I will speak to my staff but it's one where I need to back my own judgment. ''I won't worry about other factors, simply what I feel will be the best team to win.'' The incident casts doubt over the future of Ferguson who, despite winning 45 caps, has played just once for Scotland in the last 14 months. McGregor, who will be replaced by regular number one Craig Gordon, has only won four caps. Burley's own future almost certainly depends on the result against Iceland. A draw or defeat would all but end Scotland's hopes of reaching their first major finals since the 1998 World Cup finals in France. The former Hearts and Ipswich boss will radically alter the side which lost to Holland on Saturday night. Celtic skipper Stephen McManus looks to have recovered from an ankle injury and will come in for Christophe Berra, taking over the captaincy from Ferguson. Tottenham defender Alan Hutton will come in for Graham Alexander who is out with a hamstring injury.

  • Pair condemned by fans and peers Barry Ferguson and Allan McGregor have been condemned by fans and former players for the late-night drinking session that saw them axed for Scotland's vital World Cup qualifier with Iceland Former Celtic skipper Tom Boyd, who won 72 caps for Scotland, believes Ferguson in particular should not have been involved in such an embarrassing incident. ''I've experienced this with Celtic players but I think you have got a totally different culture now,'' he told BBC Radio Five Live. ''With Barry being the national captain, he has to show a bit more responsibility.'' Former Manchester United defender Gordon McQueen, who earned 30 caps, told Record PM: ''To be drinking in the early hours just days before a crucial game is completely and utterly unacceptable and George is 100% correct to ban them from the game. ''They have let their manager and the country down. It's a disgraceful example of a lack of respect for the jersey and it's hard to believe they have carried on this way.'' Tam Coyle, spokesman for the West of Scotland Tartan Army, said: ''They are following in the fine traditions of Scotland players from Jimmy Johnstone and the rowing boat incident in the early 1970s. ''But, seriously, it is very disappointing. Anything that takes away from the focus of tonight's game is unwelcome. The manager appears to have had no choice; it seems that the two players have been given a wee bit of rope and they have taken a length.'' The spokesman for the East of Scotland branch, Tam Ferry, said Burley was taking a gamble with his bold decision to drop his captain and McGregor. ''We were driven to drink after that result on Saturday so I'm not surprised that the players were as well,'' he joked. ''But, kidding aside, the manager obviously feels strongly about it. ''He must feel let down and that's why he has decided to discipline them. Maybe he is cutting his nose off to spite his face.'' Rangers Supporters Clubs secretary John Macmillan said: ''They have let Scotland down, they have let the club down and they have let the fans down with their behaviour. ''They are two players who should have known better. I don't think George Burley had any alternative but to do what he has done. ''Frankly, I have no sympathy for either player.''

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