GORDON Strachan has opted not to make wholesale changes for Scotland’s forthcoming games against the United States and Norway, with Partick Thistle goalkeeper Scott Fox the only new call-up in the 25-man squad.
Sunderland’s Steven Fletcher is back in the group, as is Matt Phillips of Queens Park Rangers, but there is no room for their fellow-strikers Leigh Griffiths and Ross McCormack.
Christophe Berra has been recalled, Graham Dorrans misses out, and the only uncapped player to be included besides Fox is Brighton defender Gordon Greer, a member of two previous squads since Strachan took over as national manager.
Fox is one of three keepers in the squad, joining Matt Gilks and David Marshall, and owes his place to the unavailability of Allan McGregor through injury. Shaun Maloney is also omitted because of injury, while Strachan deemed it too early to recall Darren Fletcher, even just to take part in training, after the Manchester United midfielder’s long absence with colitis.
Having presided over a marked improvement in results and performances during the last matches of the failed World Cup qualifying campaign, Strachan believes that the need for continuity outweighs any urge to experiment.
Both next Friday’s Hampden game against the USA and the match in Norway four days later are friendlies, but the manager insisted that targeting positive results was the priority. “You still want to win,” he said yesterday. “Do we just go ‘Okay, we’ll experiment and try all this or that’, putting in six or seven new players?
“I don’t think that’s right. You try to keep a nucleus and then try to fit in one or two players. Also, these results count towards the FIFA rankings.
“It’s like when you want to introduce one or two players to a team, you don’t want to be making six or seven changes all at the same time.