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Strachan ready for Scots’ pitch battle

London (AFP) – Gordon Strachan has demanded Scotland get to train on Lithuania’s plastic pitch in the exact condition it will be during their crucial World Cup qualifier.

Strachan’s side are due to play their first ever full international clash on an artificial surface when the face Lithuania at the LFF Arena in Vilnius on Friday.

Modern plastic pitches are generally more reliable than the widely disparaged models first used in the 1980s by the likes of QPR and Luton.

But Scotland manager Strachan knows from experience that an astro turf pitch can behave in a different manner depending on how much moisture is applied.

He was in charge of Celtic in 2007 when they took on Spartak Moscow in a Champions League qualifier and remembers how the Hoops nearly slipped up when the bone-dry plastic pitch they had trained on was soaked by the Russians before kick-off.

Keen to avoid a repeat, Strachan insisted his players are able to test out the surface with no unexpected changes lying in wait.

“We have known for a long, long time that we’re going to be playing on a surface that we are not used to,” Strachan said on Tuesday. 

“Some players have played on surfaces like the one we’ll see on Friday, others haven’t.

“We are going to ask to make sure that the training conditions are exactly the same as they will be during the game.

“I remember going away with Celtic to Spartak Moscow and we trained the night before the game on a dry surface. It was a dry surface again during the warm-up.

“But as soon as we went inside for our final preparations, the pitch got covered. They had fire engines and you name it to make sure we were sliding about for 20 minutes.

“So we want to make sure the training conditions are the same as the playing conditions.

“That’s the only stipulation we have, the rest we’re more than happy with.”

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