Eligibility rules ‘should be tightened up’

Aiden McGeady: Glasgow born. Picture: Getty

Aiden McGeady: Glasgow born. Picture: Getty

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STEVEN Naismith has endorsed a change of the rules on international eligibility which would preclude those such Aiden McGeady and James McCarthy playing for the Republic of Ireland, or James Morrison featuring for Scotland.

The Everton and Scotland striker has absolutely no problems with his Scottish-born Goodison Park team-mates McGeady and McCarthy lining up against him at Celtic Park on Friday evening for the nations’ vital Euro 2016 qualifier – and believes the barracking the pair will attract for rejecting the chance to play for their homeland will not prove to be “a big issue”.

Steven Naismith scores against Poland. Picture: Getty

Steven Naismith scores against Poland. Picture: Getty

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Naismith also pointed out yesterday that Scotland have benefitted from the ability of players to play for the country of their grandparents, with West Bromich Albion midfielder Morrison doing so, just as have McGeady and McCarthy. Such a rule is not to the liking of the Everton man, though, who essentially could have committed to Wales because his father’s parents hailed from there, moving to Scotland when his dad was two weeks old.

Approached by Wales when he was featuring for Scotland’s under-19s as a Kilmarnock player, he had no interest in pursuing what he felt was a remote connection. The 28-year-old concurred that playing for the country of your grandparents makes for a tie that is “too tenuous”, with the parental link more appropriate. “I think it could get changed a bit to, maybe use the word, tighten it up a bit,” said Naismith. “That’s my view personally, then again, who am I?

“[Yet] those are the rules, so if it can improve your team – and it has improved our team – we’re happy about it, to be honest. I personally think there should be a cut-off, not distant relatives. If you grow up in a country you should have the chance to play for them but those are the rules at the moment.

“Every country in the world is doing it and I don’t think there’s any point in debating it. We wouldn’t have too many complaints about it.”

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