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Exclusive: McGhee appointed Scotland assistant manager

MARK McGhee is the new Scotland assistant manager.

Gordon Strachan has chosen his former Aberdeen team-mate as his No.2 and the Scottish Football Association are expected to formally announce the appointment on Monday.

Strachan still intends to add a third member to the Scotland coaching team and will approach his preferred candidate in the coming days.

Both McGhee and the No.3 will work for the SFA on a part-time basis.

McGhee and Strachan have been close pals since their Pittodrie playing days in the 1980s. McGhee was on the shortlist to get the Scotland job in 2008 but lost out to George Burley. At the time he was enjoying a successful spell with Motherwell but left Fir Park for what became a disappointing 18 months in charge at Aberdeen.

After a year out of management – during which he watched games in and around London for previous Scotland manager Craig Levein – he took over at League Two side Bristol Rovers. He was dismissed by them on December 15 but has been given a quick return to the game by his old friend. Both Strachan and McGhee will continue to live in England and commute north for all international duties.

Strachan, meanwhile, last night reassured his captain Darren Fletcher, that he will leave a place open for him in his squad after it was confirmed that the Manchester United midfielder had undergone an operation to resolve his bowel problem.

The Barclays Premier League leaders confirmed the player will miss the rest of the domestic campaign following surgery to alleviate the ulcerative colitis condition  he was diagnosed with in December 2011. Fletcher missed most of last season  but he returned to action in September, making his first start in United’s Capital One win over Newcastle United.

His recovery seemed to be progressing smoothly when he appeared for his country in the ill-fated World Cup double-header against Belgium and Wales in October. However, he has not played a competitive match since the 4-3 win over Newcastle on Boxing Day.

“On behalf of the Scotland supporters, the national squad and backroom team, I wish Darren the best of luck in his recovery from the surgery that has been confirmed by his club,” said Strachan. “I spoke with Darren on Tuesday and know that the decision to have the operation has been taken in the interests of his long-term health and with the full backing of the medical staff at Manchester United.

“Darren’s commitment and pride in playing for his  country is an example to any footballer, as has been demonstrated by his availability for the World Cup qualifiers and the match against Luxembourg. I have stressed to him  that, as captain, he remains an integral part of the international set-up and that he is welcome to join up with the squad at any time during his recovery.”

Strachan’s appointment, meanwhile, received further endorsement last night as Steven Pressley voiced his approval. The manager of Falkirk, who played alongside Strachan at Coventry City in 1995 before being reunited 11 years later at Celtic, said: “The SFA have found a man who will handle all the pressure no problem and is very tactically aware.

“He will demand a certain work ethic around the group and a certain behaviour around the group, and if you give him your maximum  application then he is a great manager to have. If you are prepared to meet his standards then he is prepared to back you to the hilt.

“The pressures of Celtic and Scotland are very similar – but the pressure Gordon feels is not necessarily from the outside, it is the pressure he puts on himself. He demands extraordinary  standards from himself.

“I was a big supporter of Craig [Levein], and I will now back Gordon, but we need to get back to being a united group. Not just the players, but the nation as a whole: the fans, the SFA and the media.  There needs to be a clear understanding of where we are, where we want to go, and how we get there."

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