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Scotland boss Eck looking to Old Firm to rest players

Alex McLeish has asked Celtic and Rangers to rest their Scottish players ahead of Scotland's Euro2008 qualifier against Italy.

Celtic are due to play Falkirk at home on November 10 with Rangers at St Mirren the following afternoon. Earlier that week the Old Firm will have had stressful and draining nights in round four of the Champions League; Celtic host Benfica, Rangers are away to Barcelona. The fear of fatigue or, worse still, injury ahead of the Italy match is a very real one.

McLeish said: "We've got a big bulk of the players coming from the Old Firm and because of what these boys have been through in recent weeks - Champions League, internationals, SPL games - it would be great if they could get a break in between. It would give us every chance. But we'd obviously need the approval of Gordon (Strachan) and Walter (Smith). They'd need to be on board with that.

"We'd have to speak to the managers and the SPL first because they would then face rearranging games. I think we'll attempt it. I'll definitely speak to Gordon and Walter to get their thoughts on it.

"Players would benefit mentally as much as physically but I suppose the thing is what do we do with them? If the Old Firm don't have games on then they might shut up shop and say, 'we'll see you after the international'. And then of course I would have to trust the players because bringing them in and training them for a whole week and then having them again for another week, they'd go stir crazy.

"They'd probably need to maintain that fitness to keep them ticking over with day-to-day training. It [postponement] cuts out the prospect of injury as well - it wipes that out of the equation. We can't do anything about an injury happening between now and then but I just pray all these guys come through it."

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Tribal Football Staff

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