KRIS Boyd has pledged to make the most of the opportunity to revive his international career after he and Dundee United midfielder Stuart Armstrong were drafted into the Scotland squad last night.
The Kilmarnock striker was called up by Scotland manager Gordon Strachan to bolster his attacking options for tomorrow night’s challenge match in Norway after Steven Fletcher was allowed to return to Sunderland as he continues his return to full fitness after a recent shoulder injury.
It ends over three years in the international wilderness for Boyd who last appeared for Scotland when they struggled to a 2-1 win over Liechtenstein at Hampden in September 2010. Boyd and James McFadden were both substituted that night by manager Craig Levein and carried the can for a poor performance against one of international football’s minnows.
Boyd, who played under Strachan at Middlesbrough, saw his club career meander into relative obscurity with Turkish club Eskisehirspor and MLS outfit Portland Timbers. But the prolific former Rangers striker has found both fitness and form again on his return to Kilmarnock where he has scored six goals so far for a struggling team this season. “I never gave up hope of playing for my country again and I am grateful to Gordon for giving me that chance,” said Boyd. “I have always felt I can make a contribution at international level and knew that if I kept working hard my chance would come again. Hopefully I can get involved against Norway and show people what I am still capable of at the highest level.”
Boyd has 18 caps for Scotland, seven of them starting appearances, and has scored seven times. His international career was also punctuated by a self-imposed absence during George Burley’s tenure as manager, ironically following a match against Norway. After being left on the substitutes’ bench for the 0-0 World Cup qualifying draw against the Norwegians at Hampden in October 2008, with Chris Iwelumo sent on instead during the match and missing a simple chance to win the match, Boyd declared he would not play for Scotland under Burley’s management again.
Strachan has long been an admirer of Boyd and insists it was a simple decision to call him up after Fletcher followed QPR forward Matt Phillips and Blackburn Rovers striker Jordan Rhodes in dropping out of the original squad.
“Kris has always said he was determined to return to the international squad,” said Strachan. “Now he has that opportunity again and I am delighted for him. He is a terrific professional who works hard on his game. Having spoken to a lot of people about him, they are of the same opinion as me – that Kris is an asset to any squad with his goalscoring capabilities. He is playing regularly again at Kilmarnock and that sharpness made him a natural choice when looking for a striker to replace Steven.”
Boyd will now vie with Everton forward Steven Naismith and Leeds United striker Ross McCormack for a place up front in Strachan’s line-up against the Norwegians in Molde tomorrow. Blackburn Rovers defender Grant Hanley and Celtic midfielder Charlie Mulgrew also left the Scotland squad yesterday after picking up minor injuries in Friday night’s 0-0 draw against the USA at Hampden.
Neither is believed to be serious enough to threaten their participation in their respective club’s fixtures next weekend. Scotland Under-21 skipper Armstrong is set for his second taste of the senior squad after being included in the pool that travelled to Croatia in June. The squad will train in Renfrewshire this morning before flying to Norway this afternoon.