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A chance for the home-based Scots?

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As most of the footballing nations look forward to this summer and the European Championships in France, Scotland have the fun and joy of sitting on the sidelines while trying to fathom out what went wrong in the latest mishap in Scotland’s international footballing history as we somehow managed to fail to qualify once again.

But from this disaster Gordon Strachan seems to be looking to give an opportunity to those plying their trade at home as he prepares to announce two separate squads for two friendlies on March 24th vs Czech Republic in Prague and on the 29th vs Denmark at Hampden Park.

As we head through February I thought now was as good as time as any to look through the current crop of Scottish footballers and see who would deserve a chance to impress in a Scotland jersey.

For this 23-man squad from our shores there will only be two stipulations:

One that they are currently fit and two they ply their trade in the Scottish game and on form! Playing for the Old Firm won’t guarantee a place in my Scotland squad.

There were a few close calls and re-writes and even now there are a few I am second guessing so I will say now that of those who miss out Liam Henderson, Lewis Stevenson, Jason Holt, Steven Mclean and Stuart Armstrong were all considered at one point or another but all just miss out. So here is the final 23-man squad

Goalkeepers

Craig Gordon. (Glasgow Celtic) age:33 International Caps:43

Pushing for the number one jersey anyway despite being off form he is never going to be far away from Mr Strachan’s thoughts, the most expensive goalkeeper to come out of Scotland will be a safe number one for this side

Scott Bain. (Dundee) age:24 International Caps:0

The Dundee stopper has been phenomenal this season and has already been called up to the squad but has yet to win his first cap, looks like the future number one for Scotland and I don’t think it will be long before some of the big guns will be sniffing about the Dundee keeper

Jamie MacDonald (Kilmarnock) age:29 International Caps:0

He has been Kilmarnock’s saving grace so many times this season and it makes you wonder where they would have been without him, another one who has been in squads but yet to win a cap.

Defenders

Mark Reynolds (Aberdeen) age:28 International Caps:0 Goals:0

Has been in multiple squads but has been constantly overlooked with the likes of Gordon Greer, Grant Hanley and Christophe Berra all being selected before him despite his good form for Aberdeen the last three years this will surely be his chance to start at the back in the dark blue of Scotland.

Calum Paterson (Heart of Midlothian) age:21 International Caps:0 Goals:0

The young Jambo has been impressive ever since he came into the Hearts side during their financial troubles, now playing in his natural Right-Back slot he has shone in the SPFL showing the potential to make the Right-Back position for Scotland his own for a very long time.

Danny Wilson (Glasgow Rangers) age:25 International Caps :5 Goals:1

A man who like Reynolds seems to be overlooked by Strachan despite good form last year in the maroon of Hearts and now after finding his feet back in the blue of Rangers one of the few with international experience and a goal to his name against the Faroes Islands, It would be interesting to see if the partnership of Wilson and Reynold could blossom into an international pairing.

Graeme Shinnie (Aberdeen) age:24 International Caps:0 Goals:0

For me he is looking like the Player of the Year in Scotland just seems to get better in every game, he is another one who should have picked up a cap by now but seems to behind the pecking order to Andrew Robertson and Steven Whittaker which is a real headscratcher if you ask me, although he could quite easily play a holding role in midfield I will have him in his natural role of Left-Back.

Kieran Tierney (Glasgow Celtic) age:18 International Caps:0 Goals:0

Along with Leigh Griffiths is this young man is a stand out in an underperforming side and has pushed former Scottish Player of the Year Emilio Izaguirre out of the side to make the Left-Back position his own at Celtic Park. He would miss out on a start to Shinnie but will almost certainly have a bright future.

John Souttar (Heart of Midlothian) age:19 International Caps:0 Goals:0

After his transfer away from Tannadice many will be hoping for big things for the ball-playing centre half as he seemed to have lost his way at the start of this season, and after an impressive start against Ross County he will make the squad with an eye to the future.

Darren McGregor (Hibernian) age:30 International Caps:0 Goals:0

What a last two years this man has had after his career has been ruined by injury after a Scotland call up in 2011 he was on the scrapheap only to be given a chance at Rangers where he was Player of the Year for a poor side last year and has now been pivotal for Hibs this season becoming a mainstay at either right-back or centre-half.

Lee Wallace (Glasgow Rangers) age:28 International Caps:8 Goals:0

The marauding Rangers captain has been red hot this season chipping in with goals along the way, one of the few with experience in the squad he will be hoping to live up to the early potential he had shown, for me he is second choice behind Shinnie due to his defensive vulnerability’s.

Midfielders

Scott Brown (Glasgow Celtic) age:30 International Caps:49 Goals:4

The Skipper makes it despite the lack of game time after injury he would be vital in a squad so devoid of international experience, he would anchor the midfield which these days is the only position he can perform in as Injuries have now started to take their toll.

John McGinn (Hibernian) age:21 International Caps:0 Goals:0

The Hibs man has been another who has been first class this year running the engine room for the Edinburgh club, his performances have caught the eye of many and Hibs will do well to keep a hold of their new man he will slot into the centre of midfield.

Kenny McLean (Aberdeen) age:24 International Caps:0 Goals:0

Has grown into his role at Aberdeen as the season has gone on and showed in the most recent game against Celtic that he can upstage the main man in Scott Brown he would be the final pick in the centre of the park.

Jamie Walker (Heart of Midlothian) age:22 International Caps:0 Goals:0

The young winger is another who has impressed as Hearts made their way back to the SPFL after the financial meltdown they suffered thanks to the miss-management of Vladimir Romanov, the winger has an eye for goal and pace to burn and is on top form despite picking up niggling injuries this year.

Michael O’Halloran (Glasgow Rangers) age:25 International Caps:0 Goals:0

The new Rangers man would line up on the left wing, his performance for St Johnstone this year made him a man to be feared another man with pace to burn and an eye for goal he will be given a chance from the start to show what he can do at international level.

Sam Nicholson (Heart of Midlothian) age:21 International Caps:0 Goals:0

Like Jamie Walker he has stood out for the Edinburgh club and will just miss out on a starting berth to O’Halloran, he is another one who could have a big part to play in Scotland’s future.

Andy Halliday (Glasgow Rangers) age:26 International Caps:0 Goals:0

The Rangers man has been reborn in his new holding midfield role and has been the maestro in Rangers midfield and the Ibrox side desperately need him to stay fit if they wish to keep their charge toward the SPFL on track, because of his form this year he makes the squad ahead of those in the league above.

Peter Pawlett (Aberdeen) age:25 International Caps:0 Goals:0

The man whose performances helped Aberdeen to the League Cup back in 2014 has started to show that same form in recent weeks which takes him into the reckoning for this squad his ability to beat a man is up there with any in the SPFL and after making the Scotland squad back in 2014 he will be desperate to win a cap.

Blair Spittal (Dundee United) age:20 International Caps:0 Goals:0

He has been the only high note for Dundee United in a poor season in which they look destined to go down, he has shown a flair that is too rare in today’s game and has cropped up with goals which will be vital for United as they try and stop the inevitable he gets the final spot for the midfielders beating Stuart Armstrong and Gary McKay-Stevens who have been underperforming for new employers Celtic.

Forwards

Leigh Griffiths (Glasgow Celtic) age:25 International Caps:5 Goals:0

The man to lead the line has been the go to man for Celtic all season and who knows where they would be without him as he has bailed them out more times than I can count, he would be desperate to break his duck for Scotland and it will be nice to see someone other than Steven Fletcher leading the line for Scotland.

Jason Cummings (Hibernian) age:20 International Caps:0 Goals:0

The Hibs hitman has looked good playing under Alan Stubbs and would be a backup for Griffiths, his impressive goal scoring record will probably put him in the running for the full squad but he is behind the likes of Jordan Rhodes, Steven Fletcher, Ross McCormack and Steven Naismith.

Greg Stewart (Dundee) age:25 International Caps:0 Goals:0

The Former Grangemouth worker has never looked back since going pro with Dundee and has been a thorn in every SPFL side since with a wicked left foot and pace that makes most defenders looks silly the Dundee forward will be the last man to make the squad.

As for my starting line-up?

Here it is: Gordon; Paterson, Reynolds, Wilson, Shinnie; Brown (C), McGinn, McLean, Walker, O’Halloran; Griffiths.

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