Berra offers Scots injury boost

Defender Christophe Berra will join the Scotland squad after his partner gave birth to a girl.

The Wolves defender’s inclusion eases Craig Levein’s defensive worries, after Danny Fox and Russell Martin were ruled out.

Celtic’s Charlie Mulgrew is receiving treatment for an Achilles problem, while Paul Dixon and MK Dons defender Gary MacKenzie have been called up.

Levein said he was delighted Berra was available to face Serbia.

“He has been training at his club this week so there are no issues with him fitness-wise and I am sure he will come up on a high,” the Scotland manager said.

“Christophe is a very important player for us and it will be good to have him available for Saturday.”

McGregor, who left Rangers for Besiktas in the summer, had been expected to miss the opening World Cup qualifying Group A match at Hampden with the groin strain that forced him off in a friendly last month .

However, it is a groin strain that has denied the Scots the services of Southampton left-back Fox, who was likely to start against the Serbs, while Russell has an ankle knock.

It means a call up for left-back Dixon, who joined Huddersfield Town from Dundee United in the summer, and MK Dons centre-half MacKenzie, both of whom have been in previous squads without winning their first caps.

Mulgrew reported to Scotland’s Mar Hall base with an Achilles injury and Scotland assistant boss Houston said: “Charlie missed Saturday’s game for Celtic. The good thing is we have got a few days.”

Lee Wallace was unavailable to be considered as a late replacement as the Rangers left-back has a hamstring injury.

Following Saturday’s game against the Serbs, the Scots face Macedonia at Hampden next Tuesday.

Houston gave a hint of how Scotland will play against the much-praised Serbians.

“It’s about how we raise our game,” he said. “We’ve got a talented team and it’s about how we go about it.

“We’ll be working at starting the game well and being on the front foot, rather than allowing them possession and allowing them to knock the ball about.

“I think we’re at our best when we’re in their faces and trying to win the ball back. That gives the fans a lift and I’m sure the players can do that.”

Houston pointed to the 3-2 defeat by Spain in their Euro 2012 campaign, when Scotland came from two down before losing a late goal, as a perfect lesson.

“I thought against Spain we sat off them and gave them too much respect at first,” the Dundee United manager said.

“They went ahead and we decided ‘let’s get in about them’.

“That’s when we are at our best, playing at a high tempo. Spain was a great example, that’s how we have to go about it.”