JUST when it all looked to be going smoothly for Scotland the Leigh Griffiths controversy has thrown a spanner in the works.

The Celtic striker won't feature in tonight's crucial Nations League clash in Israel after withdrawing to concentrate on his fitness and it's a blow to national boss Alex McLeish.

Griff was unlikely to start anyway – Steven Naismith will lead the line after his heroics in the opening win over Albania – but his finishing prowess would have been a handy weapon off the bench in Haifa.

Despite the distraction the Scots head to the holy land in high spirits and with more than a prayer of a positive result. After some underwhelming friendly displays Big Eck's reign kicked into gear impressively in his first competitive match, a dominant 2-0 win over the Albanians.

McLeish is set to stick with most of the same starting line-up and they have little to fear against an Israeli side beaten 1-0 away to Albania before a 3-0 friendly thumping at Northern Ireland.

Those were boss Andi Herzog's only matches in charge so far and he's struggling to get a tune out of a squad that contains ex-Celtic midfielder Beram Kayal and Salzburg striker Munas Dabbur who ran riot against the Hoops in the Europa League last week.

It's win or bust for the Israelis if they hope to top Group C1 but their home form is honking. In their last nine competitive games on their own turf, they've won just twice – against minnows Liechtenstein and Andorra – while losing to the likes of Cyprus, Albania and Macedonia.

Despite that poor record they're still favourites tonight at 13-8 with Betfred. The Scots will tempt plenty of Tartan Army punters at 2-1 with bet365 who make the draw 11-5.

Scotland's last two competitive away games saw them beat Lithuania 3-0 and draw 2-2 in Slovenia. They can build momentum from the Albania win by avoiding defeat tonight and could edge victory if they're clinical.

Naismith – scored the opener and forced the second against Albania – is 17-2 at bet365 to break the deadlock and 11-4 at Boylesports to net any time.

Stuart Armstrong's surging runs from midfield and shooting ability will be a danger and he's decent value at 13-2 with Betway to get on the scoresheet.

Dabbur has just one goal in his nine caps and is 7-1 for the opener while Tomer Hemed – the Brighton forward who has struggled for game time on loan at QPR this season – is 6-1 with Betway.

The Israelis' need to go for goals boosts the chances of both teams to score at 11-10 with Boylesports and I like bet365's two or three match goals at 20-21.

Recommended bets

  • Scotland draw no bet (11-10, Betfair)
  • 2 or 3 match goals (20-21, bet365)
  • Armstrong to score (13-2, Betway)
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