Scotland’s James Morrison fired up by Croatian predictions of a thrashing
Team spirit: Barry Bannan and James Morrison, right
Scotland midfielder James Morrison will use Croatian predictions of a thumping victory as motivation ahead of Friday’s World Cup qualifier in Zagreb.
Croatia are joint top of Group A with Belgium on 16 points and have targeted a heavy win over Gordon Strachan’s depleted side at the Stadion Maksimir to boost their goal difference.
Croatia striker Ivica Olic was quoted as saying the home side are looking to ‘win by two or three goals’ while former national team boss Miroslav Blazevic predicted Scotland ‘will go back home with five goals in their net’.
Scotland cannot qualify for Brazil 2014 and have suffered a host of injury call-offs.
But asked if the Croats’ comments had provided the Scots with an added incentive to win, Morrison said: ’Most definitely. We will put it to the back of our minds at this stage but once the game comes on Friday we will try to use that to motivate ourselves.
‘It is not nice but we are concentrating on our training week.
‘We are doing double sessions and working really hard.
‘There are a lot of new players trying to get used to each other.’
With the game coming at the end of the season, the 27-year-old West Brom midfielder admits fatigue is an issue.
‘Obviously it is not an ideal time but now that we are here, everyone is looking forward to the game,’ he said.
‘It is going to be tough going over there. They have a fantastic team and players in their squad have been playing in the Champions League final but we have to test ourselves against the best.’
Six Scottish players have withdrawn from the squad due to injury.
Full-backs Lee Wallace and Danny Fox have been forced to pull out, with Gary Caldwell also absent.
Celtic duo Scott Brown and James Forrest and Brighton midfielder Liam Bridcutt complete the call-offs.
Drafted into the squad are Motherwell full-back Steven Hammell and Aston Villa’s Barry Bannan.
Coach Stuart McCall eased fears over Grant Hanley and Gordon Greer joining the casualty list.
He said: ‘Grant rolled his ankle early on in training today. It was just a precaution that he came off.
‘Greer has had a little bit of tonsillitis but will join up with the squad, as will Alan Hutton.’