Craig Levein is refusing to concede that Scotland's Euro 2012 qualifying hopes are at an end but the manager's plans for Tuesday's game at home to Lithuania have been disrupted by a hip injury to Charlie Adam.
The influential midfielder returned to his club, Liverpool, on Monday night after the problem flared up during Saturday's game against the Czech Republic. The depth of Levein's squad will be tested against Lithuania. Kenny Miller and Scott Brown, who both excelled against the Czech Republic, will miss out through suspension, Craig Mackail-Smith is out with a back strain and there are injury concerns over Phil Bardsley and Steven Naismith.
Alan Hutton's lack of match sharpness was also apparent on Saturday.
"Stephen Crainey didn't make it on to the bench," said Levein of the Czech match. "Nor did Graham Dorrans, nor Robert Snodgrass. We've got Grant Hanley coming back and Steven Whittaker coming back. Plus, all the guys who were on the bench on Saturday.
"I'll obviously need to check with the full-backs situation, with Bardsley being injured, and also see how Alan Hutton is, bearing in mind he has hardly played. My original idea was to play Hutton on Saturday, and, depending on how he went, put Steven Whittaker in for the second game. But Phil getting a calf problem has kind of scuppered that, unless there is rapid improvement from him."
To stand a chance of qualifying Scotland must win and hope the Czechs drop points against Spain and Lithuania in their closing Group I games. Scotland travel to Liechtenstein and Spain to end their campaign.
"Until the position arises that we can't qualify, then we'll fight on," said Levein. "We are on five points and the Czechs are on 10. They've still got to go to Lithuania, and face Spain at home. So it is not beyond the realms of possibility for them to lose these two games. If the Czechs lose these two games, and we win our next two, we'll go a point in front of them."
The prospect of Scotland having to beat Spain in the world champions' own country does not faze Levein. Scotland's showing in losing 3-2 to Spain at Hampden remains their best performance of the qualifying section thus far.
"We've played them here, when there was everything to play for," Levein said. "I believe that, when we go over there, they will have qualified, they might have new players playing, and if our improvement continues, then I'll have no worries. I'm just disappointed that it is more difficult now than it should have been."
Miller opened the scoring on Saturday before Jaroslav Plasil deservedly hauled the visitors level. Darren Fletcher seemed to set Scotland on course for victory until Michal Kadlec converted a controversial last-minute penalty.
Stewart Regan, the Scottish FA's chief executive, called for the introduction of video technology after Jan Rezek's apparent dive duped Blom sufficiently for that penalty to be awarded. Regan is also keen that the possibility of extra match officials at international games – as has been tried in domestic European fixtures – is explored.
Levein was more philosophical later; Scotland also believed they should have been handed a stoppage-time penalty of their own, when Christophe Berra tumbled.
"It is hard for a manager to look for an apology," Levein said. "There is absolutely no chance of that. He'll [the referee] be away enjoying his meal and his glass of wine, and get away home with no concerns whatsoever. What is done is done. All I can affect now is Tuesday night. As soon as the final whistle finished I was extremely angry, but now I have to start to think about Tuesday night. There was a lot of people at Hampden to watch us and I'm hoping they will think we are worth coming back to see on Tuesday night."