James McFadden believes Scott Brown is wrong to retire from international football and insists the Celtic captain will one day realise he has made the decision too soon.
Brown withdrew himself from Scotland duty on the eve of the 2018 World Cup qualifying campaign, which kicks off with this Sunday’s fixture in Malta, in order to focus on his club and family commitments.
The 31-year-old midfielder earned his 50th cap earlier this year before informing Scotland manager Gordon Strachan he would no longer be available for selection.
Tartan Army hero McFadden, who made the last of his 48 appearances for Scotland six years ago, has expressed surprise at his former international team-mate’s decision.
“As long as your country needs you, then you should be available,” said McFadden. “Unless you’re struggling with injuries and you need to go and earn a living, then that’s different. Turning up for every international without having a break will affect how you play.
“But for me you should always be available. I think Scott is a massive loss, obviously having been the captain, and I wish he stayed on for another campaign at least.
“If he had another campaign and it didn’t work out then at 33, maybe with a year left on his contract, he could have concentrated on furthering his club career.
“Then you say ‘fair enough’, but for me 31 is a bit young to be retiring. I can understand why he’s done it but at the same time he’s still only 31. He could have, and probably should have, had another campaign in him.
“I know what it’s like not to play for your country. Listen, I know Broony – he’s a great guy – but I think in a year or two down the line he might think he probably should have played on.
“You maybe just don’t realise how good it is playing for your country. There are a lot of bad sides in terms of being away for days on end and it can be quite boring. But once you don’t turn up – and you have time off – then I’d say that’s really boring. You find you have nothing to do and you’re sitting watching the games wishing you were part of it.
“I just think further down the line he’ll, maybe not regret it, but think back and think it was maybe a wee bit too soon.”
McFadden has accepted for some time now that his own Scotland career is over. But the 33-year-old, now assistant-manager and still registered as a player at Motherwell, never considered formally declaring his international retirement.
“I won’t ever retire because you never know, do you?” he added.
“There could be a good spate of 50 or 60 injuries! There might be nobody else left.
“Our manager at Motherwell, Mark McGhee, is the Scotland assistant manager so if I can go and play ten or 20 games – and I think I’ve done well enough – then I’m going to say to him ‘give wee Gordon a call and tell him I’m alright, by the way!’
“That’s just the way I am and I’ll never change. I’d never say ‘that’s it done’, I won’t play for Scotland again. We all know that, but I wouldn’t ever say I’d retired because you never know.”