October 12, 2016 / 7:46 AM / 10 months ago

Soccer-Under-fire Strachan says Scotland players 'rejuvenate' him

Oct 12 (Reuters) - Scotland manager Gordon Strachan remains keen to protect his players from scrutiny despite the intensified pressure leaving his job hanging in the balance after Tuesday's 3-0 World Cup qualifier defeat by Slovakia.

The 59-year-old received a two-year contract extension last October, though Scotland have not qualified for a major international tournament since he took over in 2013.

"Every time I get together with the players they rejuvenate me. I repeat, at the moment we have given it our best shot, tried to pick the right side," Strachan told reporters after the game when pressed on his own position.

"Right now it's how we look after them (the players). How do we speak to them on the bus going back? I can't get any more in terms of effort, I am happy with the response every time we get together."

Scotland, who are fourth in the qualifying group after three games, next face arch rivals England at Wembley on Nov. 11 and Strachan urged his players to focus on the game rather be overwhelmed by the occasion.

"We are looking at it as another opportunity to get three points. Look at the table, we'd like to be better off.

"We are one point off a play-off place. It is a crazy group."

Reporting by Shravanth Vijayakumar in Bengaluru; Editing by Greg Stutchbury

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