Scotland manager Craig Levein has told his players that they cannot afford to take Group I minnows Liechtenstein lightly on Saturday as any errors will end their bid to qualify for Euro 2012.
Scotland required a 97th-minute goal from defender Stephen McManus to beat Liechtenstein 2-1 after a woeful display at Hampden Park in September last year and there is no room for a repeat in the Scots’ penultimate qualifier.
Scotland go into the return clash with Liechtenstein trailing two points behind second-placed Czech Republic with both countries having two games remaining.
Levein’s team conclude their fixtures against world champions Spain, who have already qualified as group winners, in Alicante on Tuesday, while the Czechs play Spain in Prague on Friday before finishing their campaign in Lithuania.
The Scots need a win on Saturday to have any chance of making the play-offs and they should get it if they are at their best.
However, Levein insists that will require improvement from the last encounter.
“We don’t really need any evidence to show that if we are not at our best then we won’t be successful because the last time we played them we weren’t at our best and we struggled to beat to beat them at home,” Levein said.
“If we put in a performance like that this time, we won’t beat them.
“I get the chance to see Liechtenstein regularly. They have taken four points off Lithuania, the same as we have, and were very unlucky recently against Switzerland.
“There is an understanding in their team which makes it very difficult to break them down.
“We need to be focused and play the game with an intensity. If we don’t move the ball quickly then we will struggle.”
Scotland will be without captain Darren Fletcher after the Manchester United midfielder was struck down with tonsillitis, although it is hoped he recovers in time for the game against Spain.
Kenny Miller has a minor tear in his groin and is also likely to miss the Liechtenstein game, but the striker is in with a chance of being fit to face the Spain.
Levein knows there is little else he can do but wait to see what the next few days bring but is unwilling to offer “false hope” of Fletcher being available for the Spain game and insists he will not gamble with Miller.
“Every time he is not available, it is a blow for us,” Levein said of Fletcher’s absence.
“He is improving, I spoke to him last night and he is feeling better so I’m hopeful but I would not want to give anyone false hope.”
There was some good news for Levein on the injury front as Aston Villa defender Alan Hutton has recovered from a knee injury, while Graham Dorrans and Barry Robson have shrugged off their respective ankle and thigh complaints.