GORDON STRACHAN has said his Scotland players do not care about the lucrative bonuses they stand to collect if they lead the country through a successful Euro 2016 qualifying campaign.
Scotland flew into Warsaw yesterday for tonight's friendly against Poland, a fixture arranged before the countries were drawn together, along with Germany, the Republic of Ireland, Georgia and Gibraltar, for the Group D campaign which starts in September. By then the SFA will be enjoying the first fruits of a £51m broadcasting deal struck with Sky Sports and ITV as part of a package centrally negotiated by UEFA.
The Scotland players continued the recent practice of agreeing to take no bonuses for results in qualifying on the basis they will each receive a lump sum if the team reach the finals.
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With £51m coming into the SFA accounts for broadcast rights, plus potentially another £10m or so from UEFA if Scotland do qualify for Euro 2016 in France, the players could earn bonus payments from a governing body far richer than it was when the team last appeared at a major competition, the World Cup in 1998. Strachan provided perspective, though, when he stressed bonuses were not on his players' minds and that the SFA's inducements would make no impression on them.
"I don't think this new bonus would make any difference to the players in terms of their actual lifestyles," the Scotland manager said. "They want to qualify because it would add to their sense of wellbeing.
"They are not here for the money, that's for sure. I don't think I've ever heard one of these players even speaking about it. Bigger bonuses? For 90% of them it wouldn't make any difference whatsoever to the way they live their lives. Okay, for someone like Andy Roberston [the teenage Dundee United full-back in his first senior squad] perhaps it might, yes.
"When I was a player the bonuses made a real difference but it's not like that any more and I don't believe it's an issue for our players."
Scotland play their first game of 2014 in Warsaw's magnificent 58,000- capacity National Stadium. Rain is forecast, meaning its roof will almost certainly be closed.
The Poles were disappointed to confirm that their star, the Borussia Dortmund striker Robert Lewandowski, will miss the match after stretching a cruciate ligament.
Lewandowski, who will be a Bayern Munich player by the time Scotland return to Warsaw on competitive duty on October 14, said he would watch from the stand and assess Strachan's team tonight.
"This is an injury where I do feel okay but there is a big risk and if I'm unlucky I could be out a lot longer," he said. "The most important factor is that it heals properly. I'll have the opportunity to watch the game and maybe see something that will help me in future matches."
Darren Fletcher is likely to regain the Scotland captaincy in his first international appearance for 16 months, unless it is decided to use the Manchester United midfielder as a substitute rather than from the start, in which case Scott Brown would continue to wear the armband.
The manager wasn't inclined to drop any hints about whether the likes of Robertson might start, although he expects to make a few changes at half-time.
Strachan has plenty of options in midfield, attack and, unusually, even at full-back with Alan Hutton, Phil Bardsley, Robertson and Steven Whittaker are all available. "I just feel this particular trip is not really long enough," Strachan added: "It's like a wee break, a wee holiday and there is not enough training time.
"The qualifiers are a long time away so a lot can happen between now and then. Players could develop, new faces could get into Poland's side or into our side, so we'll just play this game as it is with the players who are here. I'll pick the boys who are looking the best in training and I'll play them. It's simple."
Scotland (possible): McGregor; Hutton, Martin, Berra, Bardsley; Brown, D Fletcher; Forrest, Morrison, Naismith; S Fletcher