Scotland to face Austria at Hampden Park after visitors opt against request to change venue

Scotland will kick off their World Cup qualifying campaign at Hampden as planned after Austria opted against requesting a change of venue.

The decision means Scotland’s opponents will be severely weakened for next Thursday’s game.

Their German-based players are not expected to travel to Scotland as they would have to quarantine for 14 days when they returned to their clubs, unless they received special dispensation to bypass coronavirus protocols.

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Austria had 18 players from German clubs in their most recent squad, including highly-rated Bayern Munich defender David Alaba, RB Leipzig midfielder Marcel Sabitzer and Borussia Monchengladbach’s Valentino Lazaro.

The Austrian FA said in a statement on Monday it decided against requesting to swap home fixtures with Scotland as it would have left them facing away games against Moldova, Israel and Steve Clarke’s side in the space of a week in September.

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Austria manager Franco Foda said on the Austrian FA’s website: “There was no satisfactory option in this situation. We made our decision with a view to the entire qualification campaign.

“If we had swapped home rights, we would have had to play three logistically challenging and gruelling away games within a course in Moldova, Israel and Scotland in September.

“We are also hoping for a real home advantage with our fans behind us in the autumn.

“It is important for us that the decision has been made. Now it’s time to focus on the things that we can influence.”

The Austria FA added that it would do everything possible to secure the release of some of their German-based players.

The organisation has written to the clubs in question highlighting its hygiene measures and pleading with them to obtain special permits from their regional authorities for their players to be exempt from the quarantine requirements.

After playing Austria, Scotland travel to face Israel on March 28 before hosting the Faroe Islands four days later.

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