Scotland will step-up their preparations for the FIFA World Cup Russia 2018 Qualifiers with a glamour double-header against Italy and France at the end of the season.
Gordon Strachan’s squad will be based in Malta for a summer training camp and have agreed two matches against world-class opposition.
They will play Italy in Malta’s Ta’ Qali National Stadium on Sunday, 29th May and complete their summer tour against France in Stade Saint-Symphorien, Metz, on Saturday, 4th June.
The national coach believes the combination of a training camp and high-calibre opposition will enable him to assess his squad and provide meaningful competition before they return to Malta and the Ta’ Qali National Stadium on 4th September for the opening match of World Cup Qualifying Group F.
Gordon Strachan, Scotland national coach: “It is imperative we are ready for the start of the World Cup Qualifiers in September and while we would rather be playing France or Italy in the European Championships, we must prepare properly against two top-class teams who will be highly motivated ahead of the finals.
“Games like these will provide a focus for our players and the coaching staff. They also give us a chance to show that we are capable of competing in such company, as we did in the recent qualifiers against Germany and Poland.
“The camp in Malta has the additional benefit of allowing us to familiarise ourselves with the facilities before our opening match in September.”
Scotland will play Czech Republic in the Letna Stadium (Generali Arena) on 24th March and Denmark at Hampden Park five days later. The national coach will select a different squad for each match to assess the depth of talent at his disposal and maximise opportunities.
“Selecting two separate squads allows us to maximise opportunities for players to gain international game time, while minimising the time spent away from their clubs at this crunch time of the season. It is important we give some of our younger players - and those who have maybe not featured as regularly as they would have hoped - some more international experience. The opportunity will be there for them to show that they can make that step-up and put themselves into contention for the matches in the summer: games that will naturally be treated with the respect and preparation of full competitive fixtures.”
Scotland’s match against Italy is scheduled to kick-off at 8.45pm local time (7.45pm) and 9pm local time against France (8pm). Both kick-off timings are subject to change.