When the Scotland squad was announced on Tuesday there were a number of surprise omissions, but in my opinion the exclusion of Aberdeen midfielder Ryan Jack had me scratching my head and wondering what Jack was thinking at the time.
“What do I need to do to get a call-up?” He may have asked himself.
The bottom line is Ryan Jack is one of the best midfielders in the Premiership and deserves to be in the Scotland squad.
Jack has been sensational for the Pittodrie side over the past few years and his supreme consistency under Derek McInnes seems to have not registered on Gordon Strachan’s radar.
The national boss had a superb chance to grant Jack with some deserved experience at international level, but he has decided to stick to what is in effect the status quo. Even if Jack wasn’t going to play, he should have been named amongst the 26 players who will face Northern Ireland and Gibraltar at the end of this month.
If ever there was a time to hand Jack his first cap it was in these upcoming games.
The Irish clash at Hampden is a meaningless friendly, which should constitute a time to test out Scotland’s promising talent, disabled from the pressure which comes with a must win qualifier.
And it’s fair to say, another home game against minnows Gibraltar should easily deliver three points for Strachan’s side in the Euro qualifier.
The young Aberdonian has everything needed to breakthrough at international level. His calmness, purpose in possession, efficient control and dictating skills are all vital attributes.
A taste of training alongside regular international players would have been invaluable for someone who is destined to reach the top.
Reported links to Roma and Napoli in January further emphasised his progress. Yet he shouldn’t need to move away from home to get recognised.
It is now nearly two years since his last call-up, for the World Cup qualifier against Croatia in June 2013, but we really should have been talking about his inclusion in this month’s squad.