Strachan defends Scotland players after poor Canada draw

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Gordon Strachan felt his Scotland team looked rusty against Canada, but stressed that is due to them not playing regular club football.

Scotland boss Gordon Strachan defended his players after they struggled to a 1-1 friendly draw against Canada.

Strachan's men have now only won one of their last seven games going into Sunday's crunch World Cup qualifier against Slovenia at Hampden, but he felt it was difficult for many of his team to produce their best given they are not playing regularly at club level.

Steven Naismith scored a first-half equaliser at Easter Road on Wednesday after former Rangers wing-back Fraser Aird had given Canada a shock lead.

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But Scotland failed to push on after the break, substitute Jordan Rhodes missing their only clear second-half chance in stoppage time against a side ranked 117 in the world.

"It is one of the best decisions we have made as the coaching group in the SFA by playing this game," Strachan told BBC Sport.

"We found out so many things, it has cleared up a lot and helped some players. 

"It is very hard for players who are not playing regularly to turn on the magic and feel really good about themselves. 

Robert Snodgrass Manjrekar James Scotland Canada Friendly 032217

"You have seen there are a lot of guys very rusty, guys that have not played for a while so that is the bonus [of this match].

"It is hard to ask players who haven't played for a while to come in and get their touch right. Small things like Griff [Leigh Griffiths] having the shot over at the end. When he is playing regularly that goes in the back of the net.

"So, we learned that lesson, the lesson that you really can't miss-pass the ball so many times in the first 10 minutes and expect to then go and play that well because you lose a bit of confidence.

"I thought we could have trusted each other better with the ball but because of our first 15 minutes, giving the ball away, I thought we got a bit negative.

"I thought a lot of players found it hard. Using a golfing analogy, it is very hard to take two months off at golf and then go and play in the US Masters. It isn't the easiest course in the world.

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"So it wasn't the easiest pitch in the world to play on with the conditions. To try and find your form in an international match on a night like this was hard.

"It is not going to go down as one of the most memorable nights as a manager or a player – it is going to be a long way down the line.

"But I'm so glad we took that game learned some invaluable things which will help us on Sunday."

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