Scotland manager Gordon Strachan announced his squad yesterday for the National Team’s upcoming home fixtures against Northern Ireland and Gibraltar.
Strachan’s team will face Northern Ireland in an international friendly before their important Euro 2016 qualifier four days later, a fixture that Scotland must – and should – win. Three points for Scotland would keep them well in contention for a place in a major international tournament for the first time since 1998, though they face stiff competition in a hotly contested Group D.
Bournemouth’s Matt Ritchie is the biggest surprise in the squad, with the English-born midfielder – who qualifies through his father – in place to make his international debut. Almost equally as surprising however is the omission of Celtic duo Stuart Armstrong and Gary Mackay-Steven, who’s excellent form for the champions looked to have merited inclusion.
There is only room for three Scottish-based players in the 26-man squad, with Celtic pair Craig Gordon and Scott Brown fresh from their League Cup success over Dundee United on Sunday joining Aberdeen’s Mark Reynolds as SPFL representatives.
Full Scotland squad to face Northern Ireland (25/3) and Gibraltar (29/3);
Goalkeepers: Craig Gordon (Celtic), David Marshall (Cardiff City), Allan McGregor (Hull City)
Defenders: Christophe Berra (Ipswich Town), Craig Forsyth (Derby County), Gordon Greer (Brighton and Hove Albion), Alan Hutton (Aston Villa), Russell Martin (Norwich City), Mark Reynolds (Aberdeen), Andrew Robertson (Hull City), Steven Whittaker (Norwich City)
Midfielders: Ikechi Anya (Watford), Barry Bannan (Bolton Wanderers), Scott Brown (Celtic), Darren Fletcher (West Bromwich Albion), James Forrest (Celtic), Shaun Maloney (Chicago Fire), James McArthur (Crystal Palace), James Morrison (West Bromwich Albion), Matt Ritchie (Bournemouth), Johnny Russell (Derby County)
Forwards: Steven Fletcher (Sunderland), Steven May (Sheffield Wednesday), Ross McCormack (Fulham), Steven Naismith (Everton), Jordan Rhodes (Blackburn Rovers).