Celtic striker misses out on squad

Griffiths needs more time, says Scotland boss Clarke

Steve Clarke

Squad: Steve Clarke (pic: SNS Group)

Scotland boss Steve Clarke says Celtic striker Leigh Griffiths isn’t ready for an international return after omitting the front man from his squad for the EURO 2020 qualifiers against Russia and Belgium.

Griffiths’ last cap came last September in the Nations League clash against Albania. He then took six months out to address personal issues after pulling out of former boss Alex McLeish’s squad for the games against Israel and Portugal. 

Although back in action, he has been fighting for a starting place under Neil Lennon and has fallen behind Odsonne Edouard in the pecking order.

“He’s come a long way in a short space of time after a very difficult spell in his life,” said Clarke.

“I feel we should just give him a little more time to settle into the role again at Celtic and get himself fully fit and firing.”

Clarke has handed recalls to the experienced duo of Steven Naismith and Robert Snodgrass, as well as Grant Hanley and Liam Cooper. 

The Old Firm provide just four players in the 25-man pool – Griffiths‘ Parkhead team-mates Ryan Christie, James Forrest and Callum McGregor, who are joined by Rangers star Ryan Jack. 

Portsmouth’s Perth-born goalkeeper Craig MacGillivray has been called into the squad for the first time, joining Wigan’s David Marshall and Jon McLaughlin of Sunderland in the battle for the gloves.

Scotland go into the crunch matches knowing they need results against the top two teams in the qualifying group, with second seeds Russia currently three points ahead of the Scots. 

Scotland, who sit fourth in Group I, welcome Russia to Hampden Park on 6 September before group favourites Belgium visit Glasgow three days later.

Scotland squad:

Goalkeepers: Craig MacGillivray (Portsmouth), David Marshall (Wigan), Jon McLaughlin (Sunderland). 

Defenders: Liam Cooper (Leeds United), Grant Hanley (Norwich), Charlie Mulgrew (Wigan), Stephen O’Donnell (Kilmarnock), Liam Palmer (Sheffield Wednesday), Andrew Robertson (Liverpool), Greg Taylor (Kilmarnock). 

Midfielders: Stuart Armstrong (Southampton), Tom Cairney (Fulham), Ryan Christie (Celtic), Ryan Jack (Rangers), John McGinn (Aston Villa), Callum McGregor (Celtic), Kenny McLean (Norwich City), Robert Snodgrass (West Ham), Scott McTominay (Manchester United). 

Forwards: James Forrest (Celtic), Ryan Fraser (Bournemouth), Oliver McBurnie (Sheffield United), Steven Naismith (Hearts), Matt Phillips (West Brom) Johnny Russell (Sporting Kansas City).

Kerr clears the air

The fall-out from Scotland Women’s dramatic exit from the World Cup in France rumbles on.

Boss Shelley Kerr is reported to have had clear-the-air talks with the squad yesterday ahead of their opening Euro qualifier against Cyprus on Friday. Scottish FA chief executive Ian Maxwell is said to have been in attendance.

Kerr’s heated World Cup debrief in France at the end of June left some players considering their international futures. She later admitted ‘a few drinks’ had been taken and that she could have handled the situation better.

Scotland Women’s first World Cup appearance ended in drama when they conceded three goals in the closing quarter-of-an-hour against Argentina to draw 3-3 when a win would have sent them through to the last 16.

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