GORDON Strachan has labelled next weekend’s England match as one in which Scotland “must not get beaten” if they are to harbour any realistic aspirations of qualifying for next summer’s World Cup finals in Russia.

The Scots sit in fourth place in Group F at the halfway point in the campaign and are in a battle to even make the play-off spot, but Strachan felt avoiding defeat at Hampden on Saturday would be enough to keep those qualification aspirations alive, having described the previous game against Slovenia as a “must-win” encounter. The manager would also not be drawn on his situation should Scotland lose to Gareth Southgate’s side, insisting only it would continue to be reviewed on a game by game basis.

“This game is one in which we mustn’t get beaten,” he said. “As we sit here just now I’m thinking about victory, but ‘mustn't get beaten’ keeps us in it. You never know, to be fair, with the rest of the scores and how they go. We want the players to be brave, stand up and win individual battles and don’t be scared of the occasion or what you’re playing against.”

Of his own future, Strachan added: “It’s just game by game, that’s all I do. I'm fine. My future’s never a problem, don't worry about that. The players and supporters are the only things I’m worried about.”

Strachan revealed he had no concerns over the fitness of his squad. Kieran Tierney will have the mouth injury he sustained in the William Hill Scottish Cup final assessed by doctors first thing tomorrow morning but the manager is hopeful he will be available to play.

“We’ll let Kieran get on with it and not pressurise him at all,” he added. “We’ve no concerns about him not declaring himself fit unless the doctor says ‘you can’t do this’ for whatever reason. What he needs to protect his mouth will be down to the people he’s seeing right now, how to train, when to train and so on.

“He goes for an assessment at 8.30 on Monday morning with our doctor and the Celtic doctor and anything they say we will do.”