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BURLEY HAS FAITH IN HOOPS PAIR.

SCOTLAND manager George Burley insists Gary Caldwell and Stephen McManus remain his first-choice defensive pairing -even if Celtic boss Tony Mowbray has yet to be convinced.

McManus was singled out for criticism after his blunder gifted Rapid Vienna a draw at Parkhead, as the Hoops were held in a vital Europa League tie last week.

Mowbray then shuffled his pack again for the Old Firm derby, with Caldwell dropped to the bench, before admitting after the 2-1 defeat to Rangers he had yet to decide his best partnership.

Burley apparently has no such concerns and had nothing but praise for the Scotland duo ahead of this week's friendly in Japan.

"Gary and Stephen have been outstanding for me," he said.

"From day one, they have been my pairing. Like anything, you have your ups and downs but I've got every confidence in both of them.

"They are both very strong characters, very competitive and they are the type of players who are leaders on and off the pitch.

"We have other players, like Christophe Berra and Darren Barr, who are waiting in the wings as well."
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Liverpool Echo (Liverpool, England)
Date:Oct 7, 2009
Words:186
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