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Strachan's way of playing is more than just a passing phase

THE prevailing orthodoxy of Scottish football might insist that the Westfalenstadion in Dortmund on the evening of September 7 is a time and place for dour, defensive types rather than inexperienced, adventurous full-backs such as Andy Robertson, but thankfully Gordon Strachan has his own ideas.

A total of 133 days will elapse before that match, more than enough time for each member of his squad to go in and out of form, pick up or recover from injury or move to a more or less advantageous club situation, but six unbeaten matches is a testament to the philosophy the former Celtic manager is forging. It will not be sacrificed no matter the standard of opposition Scotland will face that night near the banks of the Ruhr.

"We've seen it before that people think solid is 6ft 2ins, run fast and look like a huge presence on the field," said Strachan. "But because of an inability to pass the ball to your team-mates, you're a weakness. The biggest thing in international football - in all top football - is an ability to control the ball and be brave on the ball. That means the longer you've got it, the less chance they've got to score."

Strachan was delighted with Dundee United youngster Robertson's first start for his country against Nigeria in midweek, the 20-year-old withdrawn from the action merely to save his calves from any additional strain caused by scampering forward on the flank.

It was one of Scotland's most fluent, attacking performances under Strachan, with Alan Hutton also venturing forward from the other full-back berth to good effect, despite a season's tally which includes as many appearances - nine - at international level as at club duty. Hutton has shown a remarkable ability to prosper despite irregular club play, but a transfer would do him good. "Even if he was playing regularly, I would be scared to think how well he would play," Strachan said. "Maybe a game every month is good for him!"

So closely matched are goalkeepers Allan McGregor and David Marshall that Strachan is considering selecting on a game to game basis. "It is about who will be the best No 1 on the day," he said. "Sometimes you look at it and think he is in a really good place, and that is what we might have to do. I will lose sleep trying to pick one, but I won't lose any sleep once I decide."

Next up for Strachan is the World Cup, where he will have a watching brief on Joachim Loew's side, one of a clutch of potential winners. He is cooler about England, though he feels they could be dark horses.

"Germany can win the World Cup, absolutely no doubt," said Strachan. "Brazil must be the favourites, with Argentina and Spain can still win things. But for the happiness of the whole world, I hope Brazil win it. I wouldn't like to see them get knocked out early. As an outsider, England have a chance," he added. "They have players in their squad now who can eliminate people, beat two or three players in these areas 40 yards out. [Ross] Barkley, [Raheem] Sterling, [Adam] Lallana, [Jack] Wilshere, [Alex] Oxlade-Chamberlain, they can all beat one or two people, which makes a great difference. But I just think the whole thing will be set up for a South American win, all the way down to the pitches."

On his way back from Wembley, Strachan checked out Ryan Gauld and Celtic's Liam Henderson as they finished an underwhelming under-19 elite round with a 1-0 defeat to Montenegro. "I've watched Scotland teams over the past 40 years and good groups of players have done well, but it's individuals who count," he said. "I remember Leeds beating Manchester United's class of 92 in a Youth Cup Final, but you saw all the good players who came out of that defeated side. You don't always have to win to progress as an individual."

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