SFA performance director Mark Wotte has done an about-turn and called for acceptance of Kris Commons’ decision to quit Scotland.
Hopes of an end to a ten-month international exile for the Celtic attacker, who has netted 26 goals this season, were briefly raised by comments made by his manager Neil Lennon last week, only to be dashed by the player himself.
Commons, who has ten caps and has played only one full 90 minutes for Scotland, made himself unavailable for Gordon Strachan’s side last March, later citing time pressures with his three young children. At the time, Wotte questioned the player’s “pride, desire and ambition” in a tweet, but stated yesterday that reaction was merely a reflection on the player’s status.
“It was sheer disappointment that I ever commented on Kris because I recognise him as one of the best players in Scotland,” said the Dutchman, speaking as he gathered his young squad for the European Under-17 Championship elite round mini-tournament that will be staged at Rugby Park, Cappielow Park and Somerset Park next week. “Personal reasons for quitting are something you can never change. We have to respect the decision Kris Commons has reached.
“He is the best player in Scotland at the moment for me. He is at Celtic scoring goals for fun. That he is not available is a pity, but it’s something we have to respect and that’s all I want to say about it. Let’s concentrate on the new generation.”
In that new generation of Scotland senior players, Dundee United’s Andrew Robertson seems to have been catapulted onto the big stage. And although Wotte is in no doubt that the performance schools strategy is already raising the technical standard of the country’s elite 14-year-olds, the winding career path of Robertson demonstrates that players will also appear out of left field at a later age.
“Andy is a really strange example of talent management,” said Wotte. “He was released by Celtic and picked up by Queen’s Park. He got a lot of opportunities to play first team football and everybody could sign him. Dundee United actually did it, put him in the first team and he is now in the [Scotland] A squad.
“What a great success story, a great dream and a great role model for a lot of kids who might not be good enough at 14 but bounce back.
“The development of kids goes in stages. He is a great example of a late developer. Jordan Rhodes only came to our attention at 20. He never played for the under-19s or under-17s.”