Houston welcomes United States test

PA Sport
Peter Houston (right) and Craig Levein
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Peter Houston (right) and Craig Levein

Assistant manager Peter Houston insists there is little to gain from friendlies against less successful nations as Scotland gear up for their clash with the United States in Florida.

The latest FIFA rankings show the hosts to be rated as 29th in the world, while the Scots trail behind in 48th spot, with the statistics suggesting they face a tough task this weekend. But, having also faced the likes of the Czech Republic, Brazil and Slovenia in international friendly matches, boss Craig Levein is not one to shy away from a challenge.

And Houston believes a policy of taking on difficult matches can only benefit Scotland ahead of the World Cup qualifiers when the action begins for real against Serbia in September. The Dundee United boss told Press Association Sport: "You always learn more if you're playing against better teams than you do from winning games 4-0 or 5-0."

He continued: "I'm the same as a club manager in pre-season, I don't see the point in playing German Fifth Division teams and winning 11-0. I don't think you learn anything from that. The USA are a very good side, with a lot of good players and a lot of players who are playing all over the world.

"I'm a great believer - very much the same as Craig - that you learn more from playing against the better teams. You never like to lose games but results aren't the most important thing at this particular moment in time. Everything should be geared towards the first game."

Meanwhile, Houston has welcomed the possibility of Scotland launching a joint bid to host Euro 2020. But he wants to see the national team end their exile from major finals on merit long before then.

The Scottish Football Association last week confirmed they have informed UEFA of their interest in joining forces with Wales and the Republic of Ireland to stage a joint effort. Bids will not be formally submitted for at least another 18 months but, if successful, would secure Scotland's place at the tournament as one of the host nations.

The Scots have not graced a major finals since France '98 but, as Levein's men prepare for the next World Cup qualification campaign, Houston wants to see the national team earn their place among football's elite again because of their results on the park.

He said: "You would like to qualify on merit. We are disappointed we are not in the European Championships this summer but we have learned a lot and I think Craig, as well, has learned a lot since he took over."

Houston would be in favour of Scotland pushing ahead with the Euro 2020 bid, adding: "It would be a dream for us. It's certainly something we would love to see."

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