Scotland manager George Burley is desperate for a home win in Wednesday's friendly match against Northern Ireland to give his side a boost before the serious business of FIFA World Cup™ qualification begins.

The match against Northern Ireland will be the last time Burley has his squad together before Scotland hit the road for a crunch FIFA World Cup double-header. Scotland face away trips to Macedonia on 6 September before travelling to Iceland on 10 September in their opening Group 9 games.

The national team boss has yet to win a game in charge following a 1-1 draw against Croatia and a 3-1 defeat by the Czech Republic, and wants his side to get into the winning habit before FIFA World Cup qualification begins.

Scotland's record at the national stadium in friendly matches is poor, and they have not won at Hampden in over 12 years since Ally McCoist netted in a 1-0 victory over Australia in March 1996. But Burley is confident his side has what it takes to finally break the Hampden hoodoo.

"We look to win every game although our previous matches have been against two of the top sides in Europe," said Burley. "This is the last time we will be together before the serious stuff starts and it's so important to win.

"Northern Ireland will be a tough test and have real talent in Kyle Lafferty and David Healy. They beat Georgia 4-1 recently and that shows their capabilities. But we're at home and must have belief, be positive and take the game to them because that's what we'll try to do in Macedonia.

"I will ask the midfielders to play as high up as possible and get into scoring positions. Paul Hartley, Darren Fletcher, Scott Brown and Barry Robson are all capable of getting goals. It's vital to get into the habit of scoring as World Cup qualifying might be tight, so a few goals could make the difference."

Hindered chances
But Burley's chances of a Hampden win may be hindered after five players pulled out of his squad following the weekend's games. Celtic duo Paul Hartley and Gary Caldwell along with Cardiff's Gavin Rae and Kevin McNaughton joined Preston's Callum Davidson in withdrawing with injury.

Captain Barry Ferguson is a long-term injury, but Tottenham's Alan Hutton should be fit for the qualifiers. Burley has called up Rangers' David Weir, Burnley's Graham Alexander and Hearts midfielder Michael Stewart as replacements.

"The game against Northern Ireland will be a difficult test for us ahead of the World Cup qualifying campaign," Burley added. "Like us, they had a good EURO and were particularly impressive against the eventual winners of the tournament Spain.

"Everyone wants us to make it to South Africa. The game against Northern Ireland is the final part of our preparations. It will be a big night for us all."