Scott Brown laid down the ground rules early.
He was not there to talk about Aiden McGeady or Roy Keane, or any of the other sideshows that had demanded so much attention this week. Even a query about Robbie Keane’s time with Celtic prompted a face like a child asked to do chores.
Brown opened up when the subject matter centred closer to home. After too many years of disappointment and disaster, Scotland are again showing signs of life thanks to the restorative presence of Gordon Strachan. As with Ireland and Martin O’Neill (and Roy Keane), the impression of Scotland is that most of the star wattage is on display in the dugout rather than on the pitch, but the Celtic player sees it differently.
“Yeah, we’ve got a strong team and I keep saying this every time we come around,” he said. “You look in that dressing room and think any of those 23 we have got could play easily and training has been great this week.
“We have played 11 v 11 (in training) and brought subs on in every position and they have been doing really well. We have had players come in. Stevie May (of Sheffield Wednesday) has come in and done really well. He is looking sharp. You know you can trust them all as well.”
Like their opponents tonight, Scotland have already shown their character in Group D. In their case, by recovering from goals conceded against Germany and Poland to strike back and, in the latter case, claim a notable draw on the road.
Scottish teams of previous hues rarely demonstrated such chutzpah.
“All good teams need to try and do that. You can’t beat yourself up. You have to try and be as positive as you can, try and create chances and everyone in that dressing room works hard for each other. We believe if we do go 1-0 down that we can score a couple of goals.
“We have the players who can do that. From nothing you’ve got Shaun (Maloney), you’ve got Ikechi (Anya) who can score goals from one or two attacks going forward. Now we are creating those chances and putting them in the back of the net.”
That’s one way of looking at it.
Another would be to say that Scotland are light on firepower up front. The Scottish press have certainly focused on that potential weakness so far this week and Graeme Souness voiced just those concerns in print two days ago.
Steven Fletcher, in particular, has been feeling the heat.
“I can see where Graeme is coming from,” said Strachan, “but I went to watch Derby play Wolves on Saturday. Five-nothing and the main goal getter is Chris (Martin). He never scored, but was involved in nearly everything.
“It depends what you do. The days of the out-and-out goal getter might not be there. It’s what you can do for the group. The more important people sometimes now in goal scoring are the three behind the main striker.”
It’s a theory that sits well with Strachan’s new collective.
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