For the purposes of the article, I have envisaged a situation where all our best players are fit; however Steven Fletcher is still unavailable for inclusion due to his falling out with Levein.
So who would be making that plane journey?
Allan McGregor (Rangers): The stick-on for the number one jersey. He has been in superb for his club again this season.
Craig Gordon (Free Agent): Released by Sunderland this week, the keeper could well be heading back north to Celtic. A truly world-class keeper when fit, Levein would have no qualms about selecting him as back up to McGregor.
Cammy Bell (Kilmarnock): Bell is extremely unlucky that McGregor and Gordon are ahead of him as he is an excellent young keeper who is more than capable of being a national team number one. Outstanding in the League Cup Final when Kilmarnock beat Celtic.
Gary Caldwell (Wigan): The former Celtic man has his critics, but he was outstanding in his sides great run to ensure Premiership survival for another season. Maturing as a leader on the pitch too.
Charlie Mulgrew (Celtic): One of the SPL’s top performers this season, Mulgrew would be a shoo-in for a place in the squad and probably the starting 11 alongside Caldwell at the heart of defence. Big threat from set-pieces too.
Christophe Berra (Wolves): Despite being relegated with his club side this season, Berra was a regular in the qualifying campaign under Levein. However, he would probably have to make do with a spot on the bench.
Grant Hanley (Blackburn): A very promising young defender, Hanley produced many good performances for Rovers in the Premiership and would be a very solid back-up to have.
Phil Bardsley (Sunderland): Excellent during recent performances for club and country, Bardsley could play in either full-back rule and is comfortable in going forward too.
Lee Wallace (Rangers): Wallace had an excellent first season at Rangers despite the clubs turmoil, with galloping displays down the left wing. He would be able to fit into many formations, meaning he would be a real asset to Levein.
Steven Whittaker (Rangers): Like his teammate Wallace, Whittaker is comfortable playing in either a defensive or midfield role. He has bags of big game experience as well and is more than capable of chipping in with a goal or two.
Darren Fletcher (Manchester United): The Scotland captain may have been suffering from ulcerative colitis, but is slowly making his return to football. Whilst he hasn’t always delivered for Scotland, Fletcher is a positive influence on the squad and no one can deny his commitment for the jersey. If there was any chance he could play, Levein would have taken him.
Charlie Adam (Liverpool): Despite an indifferent season for Liverpool, there is no doubt Adam would have taken place in the squad. He still produced some decent displays and his passing ability gives Scotland another weapon.
Scott Brown (Celtic): Brown has really came to the fore this season for Celtic, in what has easily been his best season since joining from Hibs in 2007. He has become more aggressive, but in a more mature way and has really bossed games from the heart of midfield on a regular basis.
James Morrison (West Brom): Morrison may not be a household name, but he was very consistent during the qualifying campaign and produced similar displays for West Brom this season. Always committed to the cause, he also has an eye for goal.
James Forrest (Celtic): The SPL’s young player of the year may not have much experience for the national side, but his pace and trickery would surely offer Levein a different option for the Championships.
James McArthur (Wigan): Like Caldwell, McArthur produced a series of excellent displays for Wigan in their battle against relegation. He has a great passing range and always links well with strikers. A very good option to have on the bench.
Robert Snodgrass (Leeds): Snodgrass’s inclusion means some other very good midfielders miss out but the Leeds man is well worthy of a place in the squad. He has been excellent in the Championship division all season. He also provides a goal threat as well as some creativity.
Kenny Miller (Cardiff): Miller is now 32, but his experience and work-rate will ensure he always has a place in the Scotland team for a while yet. He may often have us tearing our hair out when he misses ‘easy’ chances, but he will always run his heart-out and with Levein’s preference for a lone frontman, Miller is the best option in the absence of Steven Fletcher.
Steven Naismith (Rangers): Naismith is one of the top performers in Scotland when fit and as I stated for the purposes of the squad, he is currently fit. He has been outstanding for Rangers for the best part of 18 months and he provides a wonderful option to play off the lone striker.
Jordan Rhodes (Huddersfield): Rhodes has scored 40 goals this season and despite only having one cap for the senior side, he would simply have to be picked by Levein. He provides a real predatory option that Scotland haven’t had up front in far too long.
Johnny Russell (Dundee United): The surprise inclusion in the squad. Russell has scored 15 goals this season and has produced many excellent displays as Peter Houston’s men qualified for the Europa League. A real secret weapon to have.
David Goodwillie (Blackburn Rovers): Despite not playing much for Steve Kean’s side this season, Levein is a big admirer of Goodwillie whom he used to manage at Dundee United. He is also a predator and can also play the lone frontman role.
For arguments sake, let’s say we took the place of the Czechs in Group A. I really think there are enough options in the squad to get points off of Poland, Russia and Greece which sums up the disappointment of Scotland not qualifying.
Scotland Has Talent
In addition to the 23 man squad, these players were very unlucky to miss out on making the journey to Poland and Ukraine.
Alan Hutton (Aston Villa)
Barry Bannan (Aston Villa)
Graham Dorrans (West Brom)
Kris Commons (Celtic)
Chris Burke (Birmingham City)
Jamie Mackie (QPR)
Gary Mackay-Steven (Dundee United)
Shaun Maloney (Wigan)
Matt Phillips (Blackpool)
Craig Bryson (Derby)
Craig Mackail-Smith (Brighton)
Ross McCormack (Leeds)
So with those 35 players that I’ve put forward, Craig Levein has an abundance of great talent to choose from going into the World Cup qualifiers. Utilise them properly and we might just do it.
Here’s hoping we can make Brazil in 2014.