Levein excited by Phillips debut

PA Sport
Craig Levein
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Craig Levein

Scotland manager Craig Levein is relishing the prospect of finally seeing Matt Phillips in action for the national team.

The Blackpool winger is set to make his debut in the friendly against the United States in Jacksonville on Saturday. Phillips, who has switched his allegiance to the Scots after representing England at under-19 and under-20 level, was forced to pull out of the friendly in Slovenia in February through injury.

Levein said: "I wanted to play him in Slovenia, I wanted to play him and James Forrest. It was a bit of a blow... For me, having him and James Forrest in the team will give us another dimension, something we haven't had before, which is real pace."

He added: "I've been really excited when I've seen him play, I've been down at Blackpool a lot. He played really well again in the play-offs and the play-off final."

As well as providing another opportunity for the players to bond at the end of a long hard season, striker Kenny Miller believes the game will also prepare the Scots for their opening World Cup qualifier against Serbia in September.

He said: "Every game is going to play its part in getting us prepared. The manager picks the opposition wisely, he doesn't just pick at random, and he probably plays his team with the qualifiers in mind.

"Every game is playing its part. We've got this one and we've got another one in August and every game is important because we are making progress and we want to see that progress on the pitch."

The Cardiff striker is set to lead the team out in the friendly in the continued absence of captain Darren Fletcher. Fletcher has been sidelined with a bowel condition since November but reports this week claim the Manchester United midfielder is hoping to get the go-ahead to resume his career next month.

As proud as Miller may be to captain his country, he is relishing the day when he can hand the armband back to Fletcher.

He said: "There are no questions asked about that. Darren is our captain. Whether it be myself or big Gaz (Gary Caldwell) who has been filling in for him, we know that Fletch is our captain and our leader. That's why we are hoping he does make a speedy recovery and gets back playing in the team as soon as he can."

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