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Scotland to face heavily-weakened Austria in World Cup qualifier

Scotland to face heavily-weakened Austria in World Cup qualifier
© Reuters
Quarantine issues mean the visitors' German-based players are not expected to travel.

Scotland will kick off their World Cup qualifying campaign at Hampden as planned after Austria opted against requesting a change of venue.

The decision means Scotland's opponents will be severely weakened for next Thursday's game.

Their German-based players are not expected to travel to Scotland as they would have to quarantine for 14 days when they returned to their clubs, unless they received special dispensation to bypass coronavirus protocols.

David Alaba
Bayern Munich's David Alaba is set to miss out (Adam Davy/PA)

Austria had 18 players from German clubs in their most recent squad, including highly-rated Bayern Munich defender David Alaba, RB Leipzig striker Marcel Sabitzer and Borussia Monchengladbach midfielder Valentino Lazaro.

The Austrian football authorities could have requested moving the game to a neutral venue, but would have faced their home game in September also being moved instead of them potentially hosting a big crowd.

They also decided against applying for a switch of the home games, which would have required special dispensation for Scotland to land in Austria.

Franco Foda
Franco Foda's side will be under-strength (Liam McBurney/PA)

Austria manager Franco Foda said on the Austrian football association (OFB) website: "There was no satisfactory option in this situation. We made our decision with a view to the entire qualification campaign.

"If we had swapped home rights, we would have had to play three logistically challenging and gruelling away games within a course in Moldova, Israel and Scotland in September.

"We are also hoping for a real home advantage with our fans behind us in the autumn.

"It is important for us that the decision has been made. Now it's time to focus on the things that we can influence."

The OFB added that it would do everything possible to secure the release of some of their German-based players.

The organisation has written to the clubs in question highlighting its hygiene measures and pleading with them to obtain special permits from their regional authorities for their players to be exempt from the quarantine requirements.

After playing Austria, Scotland travel to face Israel on March 27 before hosting the Faroe Islands four days later.

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Northern Ireland manager Ian Baraclough pictured on September 7, 2020
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