Rab Douglas: Forward planning for crucial double-header will be massive test for Alex McLeish

© SNSSteven Naismith.
Steven Naismith.

The last thing Scotland manager Alex McLeish needed after was for his two main frontmen to be injured at the same time.

That is exactly where he finds himself ahead of this month’s Nations League double-header against Albania and Israel.

Let’s not mess about here – it’s a massive blow.

He must have shuddered when he saw Naismith come off so early in the Betfred Cup semi-final against Celtic on Sunday.

The Tynecastle skipper has been in good form for Scotland and Hearts and would be one of the first picks on McLeish’s team sheet.

The news that Naismith will be out for up to eight weeks in order to get surgery on a cartilage tear came after Sparky’s club boss Brendan Rodgers had cast serious doubt over the Parkhead player’s availability for the games against the Albanians (away on the 17th) and Israel (home on the 20th) because of a calf injury.

Rodgers questioned whether Griffiths would be match fit even if the injury has eased off by then.

So you have to wonder what McLeish will do now.

It is a big test for him, coming as it does after that horrible defeat in Israel and friendly loss to Portugal.

He could go down the tried and tested route and select someone like Steven Fletcher or bring someone in from leftfield. I suspect he will take the first option.

It was a shame for the semi-final as a spectacle that Naismith went off.

I watched all of that game and most of the Rangers-Aberdeen one.

I thought Celtic looked far too strong for Hearts once they got going and, for me, it was a stonewall penalty for their first goal.

I heard Michael Stewart on the co-commentary and even their manager Craig Levein say it was a soft award but I always thought it was either a penalty or not, with no grey area in between.

You look at the player’s reaction (Oliver Bozanic fouled Ryan Christie) and there was no complaint.

Now all you want is a good final.

Obviously as a former Celtic player I would like and expect them to win it but it would be nice if Aberdeen have a go and we get an open match.

Another bit of controversy to come out of the tie at Murrayfield was the incident involving Steven MacLean.

I won’t go into the nitty-gritty of it but I did think Eboue Kouassi could have stayed on his feet. There wasn’t exactly a need for him to go to casualty.

I am not condoning what happened but these things do go on all the time in games.

The difference between that match and the hundreds of others is that there were TV cameras at Murrayfield.

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