STEVEN Naismith has tipped Kris Commons as the likely winner of this year’s PFA Scotland Player of the Year title and although he believes the current Scotland squad is the strongest he has been involved with, he says the national team could still benefit from the Celtic player’s input.
Commons quit international football so he could focus on his club game and his family and Naismith said it was impossible for outsiders to gauge if that had been a major factor in his impressive displays for the Parkhead club this season.
“Only he can say how big the effect has been,” said the Everton striker. “For every player there comes a point when the body is changing, they are getting older, they have to make a big decision. Do you carry on travelling all around Europe, pushing your body to the limits? Kris’s performances in the first half of the season and his goal return for someone who is more of a midfielder than an out-and-out forward has been great.
“I’m sure it’s a decision he’ll stick by and think it was good.”
But he added that he would welcome a change of heart.
“One thing Darren Fletcher said when he came back was that he couldn’t believe how competitive the squad now was. It’s a hard one. The manager must want him and Kris must want to come back. Then you have competition for places, it’s not easy. I certainly think he would be an asset.
“We are all pushing for the same goals and if he can help, that would be great. I don’t think it would be that big a deal so long as he is performing well and doing well for the Scotland squad in general.”
Although complimenting the Celtic player, Naismith added there is no desperate need to entice him back, though, confident that the current international squad is as strong as he has ever known it.
“It is definitely, without doubt, the most competitive the squad has been. Over the years, since I’ve come in, there have been people brought to the squad that you’ve thought ‘he’s an addition, he’s good’ but maybe overall as a squad we haven’t produced enough. At the start of the last qualifying campaign, two draws isn’t good enough or the performances and the way we played. Now everybody wants to play, everybody is turning up, so we all understand that you have to be showing for your club and when you get your chance you have to take it.”
There is enhanced belief ahead of the new qualifying campaign. “It’s got to be a positive. For me, all around, there’s more optimism about this campaign, not only because more teams go but also the results we have had. Standards have gone up, I would say.”
“[Manager Gordon Strachan] has given the forward players more freedom to go and win things. He has given them less responsibility in terms of having to defend and when we are on it he says we are a good team and we have players who can hurt other teams. He doesn’t mess about, he just tells it like it is. He is straight with the boys and it has paid off.”