Scotland are going to miss Norwich City’s Robert Snodgrass, says Shaun Maloney
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
Shaun Maloney fears Scotland are going to badly miss fellow midfielder Robert Snodgrass when they continue their disastrous World Cup qualifying campaign in Novi Sad tomorrow.
Maloney admitted that confidence is at its lowest ebb ahead of the meeting with Serbia after another 2-1 defeat by Wales kept the Scots bottom of World Cup qualifying Group A.
Their hopes at Hampden were not helped by the dismissal of Norwich City's Robert Snodgrass, who got himself a second yellow card midway through the second half with an ill-advised and late challenge on Chris Gunter which gifted Wales a penalty.
New boss Gordon Strachan will have been disappointed with the way his side conceded so soon after Aaron Ramsey converted the 73rd-minute penalty with Hal Robson-Kanu afforded space to send a free header home 84 seconds later.
And he now has to cope without the suspended Snodgrass as well as first choice midfielders Darren Fletcher, Scott Brown and James Morrison and injured striker Steve Fletcher.
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Snodgrass was almost the hero as he curled against the post from 20 yards as Scotland built on their lead after the break, and the mood could have been so much different had the Norwich winger not made his rash challenge on Gunter as the right-back delivered a cross just inside the box.
'It's disappointing because Snoddy was playing really well, he was one of our best players,' Maloney said. 'It had an impact on the game and once they scored from the penalty we weren't quite at it and after that it was pretty difficult to get anywhere near the ball.
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'The more results go against us confidence will be dented. We have just lost 2-1 at home in a must-win game so it's a pretty low dressing room and it's going to be pretty difficult to pick everyone up for Tuesday.'
Meanwhile, Robbie Keane's misfortune may be Wes Hoolahan's route back to a Republic of Ireland starting slot for the Republic of Ireland's World Cup Cup qualifier against Austria.
Manager Giovanni Trapattoni was dealt a major blow when skipper Robbie Keane was forced to withdraw with injury from the squad yesterday.
Wolves frontman Kevin Doyle, who was informed by text that he had not made the final 23 for the double-header, has been drafted in as a replacement.
But Norwich City star Hoolahan replaced Keane 13 minutes from thend of Friday's game and could be near the front of the queue to take his place in tomorrow's team having impressed with his performances in a withdrawn role since being drafted into the squad.
Trapattoni already has Jon Walters struggling with a back injury while Doyle was bitterly disappointed to have been left out of the squad in the first place. Trapattoni has been impressed with Derby's Conor Sammon and has handed Simon Cox key roles in the past – but Hoolahan will be hoping his Canaries form will help tip the balance.
Trapattoni had earlier revealed that Keane has gone for a scan, but at the time, was hopeful the Los Angeles Galaxy striker, who was in line to win his 124th cap against the Austrians, would make the game.
The deserved point with which Trapattoni's men returned from Stockholm kept them firmly in the race for second place in Group C, although they dropped to fourth place as a result of Austria's 6-0 demolition of minnows the Faroe Islands.
However, with the Swedes not in action tomorrow, victory over the Austrians would leave the Republic in possession, for the time being at least, of the runners-up spot, and no one within the camp is underestimating the importance of the fixture.
Trapattoni delivered something of a curve ball in the run-up to the Sweden game when he initially named winger Robbie Brady in his team, and then revealed he was not certain he would in fact start, an attempt, he said, to spark a reaction from the Hull midfielder.
In the event, Trapattoni opted for a double change when Glenn Whelan's ankle injury prevented him from taking part, replacing the Stoke man with the more creative James McCarthy and asking Walters to patrol the right side of midfield instead.
Having already placed himself in the firing line by informing Doyle he would not be in the squad only by text, Trapattoni courted further criticism with his treatment of Brady, but was swift to attempt to clarify his decision yesterday.
He said: 'Reporters in the world are good at writing pieces, but I never said he was confused, what I wanted to say was that I wanted to stimulate him psychologically, I want to see him stronger psychologically.
'But I never said – or I didn't mean to say – that he was confused. The headlines then are a different story.'
'There is no problem with Robbie. The player is ready.'