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Robbie's former boss in call for Parkhead calm

SCOTLAND coach Mark McGhee (right), the man who handed Robbie Keane his debut in senior football, wants Scottish fans to spend their time cheering their own players and not jeering the opposition in Friday's Euro qualifer at Parkhead.

Now working as an assistant to boss Gordon Strachan with the Scottish FA, McGhee clearly has an insight into the home squad, he has a feel for the match venue from his spell as a Celtic player (1985-89), and he also has an awareness of Irish talent.

He was the manager who trusted a 17-year-old Keane enough to hand him his Wolves debut back in 1997 and in his various spells in club management McGhee has worked with a large number of Irish players, including internationals Steven Reid, Richard Sadlier, Wayne Henderson and Paul McShane.


The Scottish FA realise that some fans plan a reception for Glasgow boys Aiden McGeady and James McCarthy if they feature for Ireland against their native country on Friday night but McGhee has tried to play that down.

"I think it has the makings of a hugely competitive game, but I think it is a game that will be played in the best spirit. I don't think there will be any other issues," says McGhee.

"Anything else will be drowned out by the support that hopefully the Scotland fans give their own team, rather than wasting energy on anything else.

"There are two groups of players and staff who know each other and who have a huge amount of respect for each other, I sat beside Martin O'Neill last week at Brentford.

"I know from European nights that the atmosphere that can be generated at Parkhead, like Ibrox, is just sensational," added the former Bhoys player.

"With the magnitude of this game, you would expect there to be as good an atmosphere at a Scotland game as there has been for a long time.

"It is a home game for us, not for them. We have a huge support behind us, we couldn't be set up better."

With rivals teams in the group Poland (away to Georgia) and Germany (at home to Gibraltar) expected to win their games on Friday, McGhee knows that the Parkhead tie will have a big bearing on qualification.

"In terms of our ambitions for qualifying it's huge. I think the Wales game was a massive game because if we could have won that we'd still have been in the hunt so in a sense that was the biggest game of the last period," he said.

"This is the biggest game of this period, this is the game that will go a long way to deciding whether we do or don't.

"It's not decisive in means, it's not a must-win, must-not-lose but it would give either team a big advantage if they were to win it."