CRAIG Levein has revealed that Jordan Rhodes has a way to go before he will seriously consider the £8 million Blackburn Rovers striker for a starting place for his country.
“Listen, Jordan isn’t ready to play international football,” insisted the Scotland manager, a comment that is sure to go down like a lead balloon among the striker’s burgeoning fan base, never mind the player himself, who scored twice yesterday in a 5-2 away win over Bristol City which sent Blackburn to the top of the Championship table. “He’s not [ready]. This whole thing has been built up and it has become a side-show we could have done without.
“Jordan has been built up to this kind of status and the danger for me is he’s getting way over-hyped and that might damage his confidence.
“Remember, he’s played just one game in the Championship [before yesterday]. All the experience Jordan gets just now is brilliant for him. But it was unusual for there to be such a clamour for a young boy to play.”
Before Scotland’s World Cup qualifiers against Serbia and Macedonia there were widespread calls for Rhodes to be included from the start ahead of the ageing and out of form Kenny Miller.
These calls were given succour by Levein himself who, a fortnight ago, spoke glowingly of the 22-year-old’s ruthlessness in front of goal, describing him as a “pure-bred poacher” who he was thinking of starting against the Serbians. “Don’t think I haven’t thought about it,” said Levein at the time.
The Scotland manager now says that the calls for Rhodes’ inclusion were not normal. “I was thinking about playing Jordan. I was asked the question and I said I was thinking about it. Was I meant to say that I wasn’t thinking about playing Jordan? But what happened after that was not normal. The press reaction that week wasn’t normal. What was abnormal about it was a young player was put under enormous pressure. I think a lot of the fans are led by the media. In the Jordan situation they certainly were because, in my mind, there was no reason for him to be as prominent as he was in the week leading up to it. The evidence isn’t there yet. The fact somebody’s paid £8m for him is their opinion.”