Former Scotland defender Kevin McNaughton feels national team coach Alex McLeish has not been helped by the withdrawal of numerous players.
McNaughton believes McLeish has struggled for continuity of selection since taking over, which has contributed to a record of just two wins in eight games.
Leigh Griffiths pulled out of the squad ahead of the Israel game to focus on his fitness, while Kieran Tierney, John Souttar, Charlie Mulgrew, Robert Snodgrass and Scott McTominay left the squad prior to the 3-1 friendly defeat to Portugal. James McArthur asked not to be considered for selection for either game.
Those exits allowed Aberdeen’s Gary Mackay-Steven and Mikey Devlin to earn call-ups to the squad, joining their team-mates Scott McKenna and Graeme Shinnie.
McNaughton, who was capped four times for Scotland and made his debut during his time with the Dons, reckons the absences of players has not helped Scotland’s cause.
He said: “It’s always going to be tough for Scotland and it doesn’t help when there’s a few boys missing. But if boys are getting injured then there’s nothing you can do. It seems like they’re experimenting and trying to find something that’s going to work. We might see that when they get a settled team.
“With a new manager coming in, you’re hoping for an immediate impact but it hasn’t happened. There is a little bit of expectation that comes with Scotland but it used to be higher than it is now. The fact they’ve got some exciting young players, the expectation is lifted again because people think we’ve got a good enough squad to get to a major tournament.
“Wales and Northern Ireland have come on in recent years and there’s no reason why we can’t do it.”
McNaughton was pleased to see the Dons well represented in the squad for the Portugal game and believes they will improve on their current mid-table position.
The Dons face Hearts at Tynecastle on Saturday, managed by Craig Levein who called McNaughton up to several of his Scotland squads.
He added: “Aberdeen will come good, even if it hasn’t been a great start. They’re not a million miles away. I remember playing at Tynecastle and I don’t think we had a good record there and hopefully if they get a result, they can get some momentum going.
“Craig was quite thorough in his approach and was always looking at the opposition. He’s been great for Hearts and I’m sure their supporters will be delighted with him.”