Strachan’s summer Scotland squad shorn of stars from champions Celtic
Robbie Purves | May 12, 2016
Only Mulgrew included from Celtic contingent
Gordon Strachan has named his 28-man Scotland squad for friendly meetings against Italy and France.
Despite claiming their fifth consecutive league title last weekend, Charlie Mulgrew is the only Celtic player to report for international duty.
Scotland’s Player of the Year, Leigh Griffths misses out after scoring his 40th goal in all competitions last weekend, as relegated Norwich City forward Steven Naismith returns to the squad, after pulling out against the Czech Republic in late March.
Kieran Tierney, 18, has also lost his left back berth amid exceptional performances for his club, reportedly garnering admiring glances from both Manchester City and Arsenal.
Craig Gordon and Scotland skipper Scott Brown are also absent. Gordon is a surprising omission due his his fine club form, registering 14 clean sheets this campaign. Brown being left out is less of a shock, as the midfielder has begun to show his age with some lacklustre performances.
However, Strachan said he chose to leave players from both Celtic and Aberdeen out of his squad, so they can rest before crucial European ties with their clubs at the start of next season.
The Dons face a Europa League qualifier on June 30th, while Hoops start their Champions League qualifiers in early July, but Aberdeen’s Kenny McLean and Griffiths had both declared themselves keen to be involved with the national side.
Hearts will also face a Europa League qualifier at the end of June, but Strachan said Jambos head coach Robbie Neilson was keen for right back Callum Paterson, 21, to gain more international experience.
Rangers returns to international set-up
Following their Scottish Championship triumph which will see the Glasgow team return to the top flight, Rangers have built upon their triumphant year with national call-ups for duo Barrie McKay and Lee Wallace.
Ibrox captain Wallace won second tier Player of the Year and enjoyed a fantastic campaign registering nine goals and 13 assists in all competitions. The defender has missed out on squads in recent years with Rangers endeavouring to climb out of the depths of Scottish football, but has now been recalled.
Gers clubmate McKay earns his first call-up after impressing throughout the season, with his stunning goal against Celtic in the Scottish Cup semi-final was named Goal of the Season at the recent PFA Awards. The Paisley man has scored nine and assisted 12 in Rangers’ various competitions.
These friendlies will give Strachan a good chance to observe how his players will perform against top opposition in preparation for the 2018 World Cup qualifiers. The Tartan team 3/1 to qualify for the tournament in Russia.
A name to watch out for is Oliver Burke. The 19-year-old winger possesses a rare combination of size, pace and technique and is highly thought of by his club Nottingham Forest.
Scotland squad to face Euro 2016 finalists Italy and France
Goalkeepers: Scott Bain (Dundee), David Marshall (Cardiff City), Allan McGregor (Hull City)
Defenders: Christophe Berra (Ipswich Town), Gordon Greer (Brighton and Hove Albion), Grant Hanley (Blackburn Rovers), Alan Hutton (Aston Villa), Russell Martin (Norwich City), Charlie Mulgrew (Celtic), Callum Paterson (Hearts), Andrew Robertson (Hull), Lee Wallace (Rangers)
Midfielders: Ikechi Anya (Watford), Barry Bannan (Sheffield Wednesday), Oliver Burke (Nottingham Forest), Darren Fletcher (West Bromwich Albion), Shaun Maloney (Hull), James McArthur (Crystal Palace), John McGinn (Hibernian), Barrie McKay (Rangers), Matt Phillips (QPR), Matt Ritchie (Bournemouth), Robert Snodgrass (Hull)
Forwards: Steven Fletcher (Marseille, on loan from Sunderland), Chris Martin (Derby County), Ross McCormack (Fulham), Steven Naismith (Norwich)