• 'You have to suffer, it's part of the deal,' says Strachan
• Scotland striker Steven Fletcher will miss match in Serbia
Scotland may have the chance to experiment but Gordon Strachan knows full well the perils associated with messing with a settled international side. Friday night's 2-1 loss to Wales kept the Scots at the bottom of their World Cup qualifying section, having collected a mere two points from five games. The remaining Group A matches now appear valuable to the Scotland manager only so that he can plan for Euro 2016 qualification.
"You can't experiment too much because there are a lot of people going to watch the games," Strachan said. "It would be fine if you were going somewhere and no one turned up, then you could experiment. They wouldn't be wasting their money.
"I think you can try some things out without being crazy and changing the whole team. I would like to see different people now and how they integrate with the team. You have to win games, you can't just say you are experimenting, that is not an excuse at all. Experiment is an awful word; if you use that it means that people are turning up to watch an experiment rather than a game of football. It is development."
Speaking at Scotland's team hotel on Saturday morning, Strachan still cut a disappointed figure. Friday's Hampden Park tie marked his first competitive match in international management. It was an encounter Wales fully deserved to win and Strachan admitted to having only three hours of sleep after the defeat. "Funnily enough the pain is the same when you are in the room at night [whether the manager] at Celtic, Coventry, Middlesbrough and Southampton," Strachan added. "I'm not ready to watch the game back yet. There is a disappointment stage. I said to the doctor there, that there's not a tablet you can take to get over the disappointment. I actually had to ask the doctor if there was tablet for it. If there was I would like it right now. You have to suffer, it's part of the deal."
He denied, though, that his latest managerial assignment now looks tougher than when he accepted the task of succeeding Craig Levein. "I think it is about the same [size of job]," Strachan said.
"If I said that just now I would probably say yes, but if you ask me tomorrow I would probably say no. The further you get away from the game the more information you take in and the more you think we will be all right. At the moment it is a horrible time for me to speak to you, because I am not 100% bang on again."
Strachan will not take his dejection out on his players. "I know fine well what I can do as a club manager but as an international manager you can't go and demand the same as a club manager," he said. "They only come here because they want to be here. They're not here because they're getting paid so it's hard to put the demands face to face as you would do as a club manager.
"You really can't get into their face and demand things. I have no right to be forceful or critical of players in the dressing room when they're not really my players."
There was brighter news on Steven Fletcher, who left the field on a stretcher after damaging his ankle after just 85 seconds. The forward will miss Scotland's trip to Serbia on Tuesday and has returned to his club, Sunderland, for a full assessment. "What we don't like doing is saying he has got this injury or that injury, it is better that they [the club] tell you," Strachan said. "But it is not as bad as we feared. When we first saw him go down and he was waving his hands we thought‚ 'oh no this is a bad one'."