Strachan Picks Yet Another Impressive Scotland Squad Although It Still Raises A Few Eyebrows


Scotland squad:

Goalkeepers: Craig Gordon (Celtic), David Marshall (Cardiff City), Allan McGregor (Hull City).

Defenders: Christophe Berra (Ipswich Town), Craig Forsyth (Derby County), Gordon Greer (Brighton & 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).

So Gordon Strachan has named his Scotland squad for the friendly against Northern Ireland and the Gibraltar Euro qualifier, which will both take place at Hampden Stadium towards the end of this month.

On first viewing the pool looks extremely impressive. We seem to have depth in most, if not all, positions.

Personally I’d make at least two changes, probably three.

I think Leigh Griffiths‘ recent form for Celtic should have seen him in ahead of Stevie May.

I like May, he can make intelligent runs and last season proved he knows where the net is. But alas he’s still adapting to life in the English Championship and hasn’t been as impressive with Sheffield Wednesday as he was with St Johnstone last term.

On the other hand Griffiths has rediscovered his form at Celtic under Ronny Deila, so much so that he’s keeping John Guidetti out of the ‘Hoops’ starting eleven. He’s scored ten times this campaign and just helped his club get their hands on the League Cup yesterday, so his confidence levels should be at an all-time high.

I really can’t understand why Strachan has decided to include James Forrest ahead of club teammate Gary Mackay-Steven.

Forrest may have scored yesterday but then he missed a penalty too. Injuries once again have hampered him this term and he can’t get a run of starts.

You then have Mackay-Steven who has scored more and provided more assists than Forrest this term. He has hit the ground running at Parkhead and seems to have stepped up a level in performance since his January transfer. Mackay-Steven has only made six appearances so far for Celtic yet has two goals, the same as Forrest who has made eighteen Celtic appearances this term. Unlike others currently in the squad he has tricks to get beyond strong defenders.

I’d probably have Stuart Armstrong ahead of Barry Bannan too.

I know Bannan has more experience but surely these two games are ideal times to see just exactly what Armstrong gives you. Plus you have others with experience like Shuan Maloney still in the mix too. Armstrong particularly impressed against Inter Milan in the Europa League recently and it would’ve been good to see him in a Scotland shirt, sooner rather than later.

But let’s look at the positives.

Strachan again has three top-class keepers to choose from. I’d imagine David Marshall will be his number one but any of the three would do their nation proud.

In defence I’d like to see Gordon Greer again, as he did well against Poland. It’s nice to see Christophe Berra back in the fold, he has experience at this level and has been impressive for Ipswich this term after losing his way a bit at Wolves. Berra also adds a threat at set-pieces.

I like the fact that the manager has selected Scottish Premiership defender Mark Reynolds. The defender has done well at Pittodrie. with Aberdeen deservedly in second place at the moment.

In midfield, we have Watford man Ikechi Anya who has pace that can scare any defence. I’d love to see him kept specifically for the Gibraltar game and watch him run at that defence.

Strachan has called up his 100th face in Bournemouth’s Matt Ritchie. The midfield man could be a bit of a wild card but any tine I’ve seen him he has really impressed, especially with his wand of a left-foot. Having scored eleven times for the English Championship leaders and also providing twelve assists, this could be a star find for Scotland. Although you can imagine his Englishness will anger certain Tartan Army members!

I caught up with Scot Munroe (@ScotM87) who is a massive Swindon Town fan and who watched Matt Ritchie develop at the ‘Robins’.

Scot gave this glowing report on the twenty-five year old’s abilities…

‘Versatile player. Can play on the left or right. I think he could also play centrally behind the main striker. 

Dangerous on delivering set-pieces. Excellent cutting in from the right and scoring from distance. Just an all round good player. 

I was gutted when he left Swindon for Bournemouth as it derailed our promotion push.’

Could be really exciting for Scotland if they have the pace Anya on the left and the dangerous Ritchie working well on the right.

Up-front, it’s nice to see Jordan Rhodes back in the pool after being dropped. I was worried that their had been a fallout between the player and national coach but Strachan has shown that when in form he will select the Blackburn hit-man. Would be nice to see him get on the park this month and get on the scoresheet too.

I also hope we see Johnny Russell get a run out during these fixtures.

As I said earlier it’s great that we have so much depth in our ranks these days and so many in form players to choose from.

Hopefully we see two victories at Hampden this month and that will continue the feel good factor that surrounds the Tartan Army at the moment. Bundles of goals would be nice but not essential as long as we continue this campaign with a nice win over Gibraltar.

Although I’d make a few changes to this squad, I can’t really complain. I also trust Gordon Strachan and that is our major boost this campaign!


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