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Scotland boss defends striker over SFA accusations

Scotland manager George Burley has attempted to reassure Chris Iwelumo that he is not being made a scapegoat for the country's World Cup qualifying struggles, following some pointed comments from Scottish Football Association president George Peat on Thursday.

Peat suggested that Scotland, who need to win their upcoming qualifiers against Macedonia and Holland to have any chance of reaching the finals, would be in a much more favourable position in Group Nine had Iwelumo not notoriously missed an open goal in a qualifier against Norway in October 2008.

Burley is sure that Peat did not mean to single out Iwelumo as a key factor in Scotland's current predicament and has contacted the Wolverhampton Wanderers striker in order to smooth things over.

"I don't know exactly what George said, he didn't mean it in that manner,'' Burley said. "We're a team together; we win together, we lose together and it's not one man's fault.

"We haven't qualified for a long time for majors - we need to have a look at the whole structure.

"I spoke to Chris last night and nobody's blaming him at all, nobody's blaming an individual. We're all in it together.''

Scotland are currently third in Group Nine, level on points with Saturday's opponents Macedonia and a full 14 behind Holland, who travel to Hampden on Wednesday having already qualified for the finals in South Africa.

Burley can therefore only claim a play-off place but even if Scotland do finish in second, their overall points total may not be enough to prolong their involvement in qualifying.

A 4-0 defeat to Norway last month had fingers pointing at the manager but when asked if he had two games to save his job, Burley said: "The only thing I'm thinking about is winning Saturday. Then you might be offering me a new contract!''

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