New boss defends selection
Clarke: Kilmarnock players are in squad on merit
Squad: Steve Clarke (pic: SNS Group).
New Scotland manager Steve Clarke has defended his decision to pick four Kilmarnock players in his first squad for next month’s Euro 2020 qualifiers against Cyprus and Belgium.
The former Rugby Park boss has included Stuart Findlay, Greg Taylor, Eamonn Brophy and Stephen O’Donnell in his 27-man pool.
“People will probably think, ‘he’s just picking Kilmarnock players for the sake of it’. It’s not true,” Clarke said.
“All the boys deserve to be there. Stephen O’Donnell is an established player at right-back. Stuart Findlay was in the last squad and has had a great season.
“It was a case of promoting Greg up from the very good performances he has had for Scotland Under-21s. Up front I have a lot of injury problems and Eamonn was an obvious choice for me.”
Findlay, Taylor and Brophy are among five uncapped players to get the call, Livingston goalkeeper Liam Kelly and Michael Devlin of Aberdeen the others.
Missing from the last national squad named by former boss Alex McLeish are Oli McBurnie and John Fleck, though there were recalls for Hull City keeper David Marshall and Fulham’s Tom Cairney.
Clarke takes charge of his first game when Cyprus visit Hampden Park on June 8 before the Scots travel to Group I favourites Belgium three days later.
The 55-year-old was appointed as McLeish’s successor last week on a three-year deal after impressing while in charge of Kilmarnock.
Goalkeepers: Scott Bain (Celtic), Liam Kelly (Livingston), David Marshall (Hull City), Jon McLaughlin (Sunderland)
Defenders: Michael Devlin (Aberdeen), Stuart Findlay (Kilmarnock), Scott McKenna (Aberdeen), Charlie Mulgrew (Blackburn Rovers), Stephen O’Donnell (Kilmarnock), Liam Palmer (Sheffield Wednesday), Andrew Robertson (Liverpool), John Souttar (Heart of Midlothian), Greg Taylor (Kilmarnock)
Midfielders: Stuart Armstrong (Southampton), Tom Cairney (Fulham), John McGinn (Aston Villa), Callum McGregor (Celtic), Kenny McLean (Norwich City), Scott McTominay (Manchester United), Graeme Shinnie (Aberdeen).
Forwards: Eamonn Brophy (Kilmarnock), Oliver Burke (Celtic, on loan from WBA), James Forrest (Celtic), Ryan Fraser (Bournemouth), Marc McNulty (Hibernian, on loan from Reading), Lewis Morgan (Sunderland, on loan from Celtic), Johnny Russell (Sporting Kansas City).