Wallace gets backing of former Hearts pal Andy

ANDY WEBSTER today backed Lee Wallace to handle the step up from the Irn-Bru Third Division to international football – and boost Scotland's slim World Cup hopes.

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Andy Webster is delighted Lee Wallace has been handed a recall to the Scotland squad
Andy Webster is delighted Lee Wallace has been handed a recall to the Scotland squad

Webster played with Rangers left-back Wallace during their time together at Hearts and was delighted to see him handed a recall to the national squad.

New manager Gordon Strachan has given the defender the nod despite the fact the Ibrox club has been playing in the Third Division in the 2012/13 campaign.

But Webster has no doubts his old team-mate, set to play in the friendly against Estonia at Pittodrie tomorrow night, will handle the difficult transition with aplomb.

The centre-half said: "Lee is a very good footballer. He has proved that at Hearts and he is proving it again at Rangers. You always want your best players available and he is one of them.

"Lee has played international football before. It is not as if he is a novice and is just coming into it. He knows what it is all about. He is a quality footballer and defender so I don't think the step up will be an issue."

Webster feels the return of Wallace could help to shore up the Scotland rearguard ahead of their crucial World Cup qualifiers against Wales and Serbia next month.

He explained: "If you have an understanding from having played with each other at club level regularly on a weekly basis then I think it is of benefit in international football.

"A lot of boys in the squad have played with each other extensively in the past at both club and international level and I think that does make things slightly easier.

"Obviously both myself and Cristophe Berra have played with Lee in the past with Hearts and there is an understanding there between the three of us because of that."

Webster was also pleased to see Strachan bring Birmingham City winger Chris Burke, another of his former Rangers team-mates, in from the cold.

HE said: "Burkey was one of the stand-out performers in the Championship last season. He had the most assists in that division.

"He will bring something different to the side.

"Chris has that quality. He has something a bit different. He has the ability to beat players out wide.

"A lot of boys in the squad are playing on a regular basis in the Barclays Premier League, which is obviously an exceptionally high standard, or at top Championship clubs. The quality is definitely there."

Scotland are currently languishing in bottom spot in Group A with just two points from four games – eight points behind joint leaders Belgium and Croatia.

But Webster said: "Initially, qualifying for the finals was the goal. Obviously, the first few results haven't been ideal. But I think that it is all about the here and now and building momentum.

"With any team, you are looking to do that. You want to win games to build confidence and that momentum.

"It is very important for us to get off to a good start tomorrow night under the new manager.

"You never know what will happen in the future. If we start to pick up results then the next part of the qualifying campaign could be good. We will see what happens."

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