Scotland captain Barry Ferguson and goalkeeper Allan McGregor have been dropped from the side to face Iceland in a crucial 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™ qualifier on Wednesday, the Scottish Football Assocation have confirmed.
Amid reports that the Rangers duo had stayed up drinking into the early hours at the team hotel after the squad's return from a 3-0 defeat by Holland on Saturday, an SFA spokesman confirmed a "breach of team discipline" had taken place. "This has been dealt with within the squad," he added. "The focus of today is victory this evening and we will be going all out for three points."
Manager George Burley had been considering dropping McGregor and recalling regular first-choice goalkeeper Craig Gordon, but the decision to omit Ferguson, Scotland's most experienced midfielder, represents a huge gamble for such an important game.
Failure to beat Iceland would severely dent Scotland's hopes of claiming second place in group nine and clinching a place at next year's FIFA World Cup finals in South Africa via the play-offs.
In the absence of Ferguson, Celtic skipper Stephen McManus is expected to captain the side. McManus missed the defeat in Holland but has recovered from an ankle injury.
Former Manchester United defender Gordon McQueen, capped 30 times by Scotland, was one of several ex-internationals to back Burley's decision to drop Ferguson and McGregor.
"To be drinking in the early hours just days before a crucial game is completely and utterly unacceptable and George is 100 percent correct to ban them from the game," McQueen told Record PM. "They have let their manager and the country down. It's a disgraceful example of a lack of respect for the jersey and it's hard to believe they have carried on this way."
Tom Boyd, a former Celtic captain who won 72 caps, told BBC Radio Five: "With Barry being the national captain, he has to show a bit more responsibility."