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Steve Clarke extends olive branch to those omitted from Scotland squad

Scotland manager Steve Clarke.
Scotland manager Steve Clarke.

Steve Clarke insists those left out of his Scotland squad know what they have to do to be selected again.

Clarke has left out five players from the travelling party which secured European Championship qualification in November, in naming his squad for the upcoming World Cup qualifiers,

Leigh Griffiths, Lawrence Shankland, Oliver Burke, Callum Paterson and Liam Cooper have been omitted for the games against Austria, Israel and Faroe Islands.

Aberdeen’s Andy Considine retains his place, with Grant Hanley, Jack Hendry, John Fleck and Ryan Fraser earning recalls. Che Adams and Kevin Nisbet could earn their first international caps.

There had been clamour to include younger players such as David Turnbull and Billy Gilmour, as well as in-form Ryan Gauld who is impressing for Farense in Portugal.

However, Clarke has largely kept faith with the squad which won in Serbia four months ago.

Steve Clarke named his Scotland squad yesterday.

“The ones who were in the squad in November, I’ve obviously phoned them to let them know they are not in this selection, tell them a little about why they’ve not been selected and what they can do to get involved again,” said Clarke.

“Those conversations have to remain private but they all know where they stand. They took the message in the right way and want to be part of the squad moving forward which is great even though they’ve suffered the disappointment of not being involved this time.

“People like David Turnbull, Nathan Patterson, Billy Gilmour, Ryan Gauld are all young players with good prospects. But the likes of Turnbull has to break into the team in front of (John) McGinn, (Scott) McTominay, Stuart Armstrong, Ryan Chistie, Ryan Fraser – it’s an area of the team we are very, very strong in – and we also have to be very careful not to lose the dynamic of the squad.

“I can’t understand the clamour to throw some players out who have been part of a historic national team that’s qualified for a major tournament. The time will come for these other players but, at the moment, it’s about getting the balance right so that we move forward in an organised manner.”

Clarke has recently been linked with the vacant manager’s job at Celtic, following the dismissal of Neil Lennon.

The Scotland boss stopped short of dismissing the speculation but insists he is committed to leading the country into the European Championships.

“I don’t think it’s my job to knock anything on the head because I’m the Scotland manager,” said Clarke. “I told you on the steps in Serbia after the game and straight to your faces that I’d be here for Euro 2020. I said I would still be the manager of Scotland.

“If you can tell me that I’ll still be the manager of Scotland come December 2022 in Qatar I’ll be delighted with that as well.

“Why would anybody say they don’t want anything? Why would I do that? I could be somewhere else in the summer, I don’t know what’s going to happen.

“Did you know this time last year that we were going to be stuck in the house all this time by a pandemic? Nobody knows what’s going to happen so I don’t think it’s fair that you always say I’ve got to knock it on the head. I didn’t start the speculation.

“I’m delighted and proud to be the matter of Scotland.”

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