Rangers boss Mark Warburton admits he is “surprised” none of his Championship-topping players merited a place in Gordon Strachan’s Scotland squad.
The national team manager has called up 33 players for two friendly clashes with the Czech Republic and Denmark later this month.
But there was no room for any of Warburton’s men even though they are on course for automatic promotion and have a William Hill Scottish Cup semi-final with Celtic to look forward to.
The Ibrox manager was at pains to insist he was not having a go at Strachan - but he did insist the likes of in-form skipper Lee Wallace and midfielder Jason Holt deserve a place in his group.
The Englishman - speaking after his side extended their lead over second-placed Falkirk to 15 points with a 3-1 win at home to Morton - said: “I’ll answer this question but I would just asked that the rhetoric used isn’t ‘Warburton blasts Strachan’ or ‘Warburton lambasts Strachan’ because I’m not.
“But I am surprised. I think we’ve got some high-quality players in the squad. We’re 15 points clear at the top of the Championship and I’m delighted because I want the players here working [during the international break].
“But I know fine well there is a lot of international-class players in the dressing room.
“That’s just my opinion. Gordon is the national team manager and I respect that. But my opinion is I know how good Lee Wallace is and other players here have been this season.
“I don’t make that decision. It’s down to Gordon and his staff so good luck to them.”
Excitement building up to the Old Firm duel on April 17 has already taken hold of the Ibrox faithful but it appeared their players were also busy daydreaming about the Hampden duel as they allowed Morton to grab a shock lead at Ibrox.
Denny Johnstone bundled the Greenock side in front after 22 minutes after Wes Foderingham spilled Bobby Barr’s shot.
But veteran hitman Kenny Miller scored twice in the moments either side of the half-time break, first with a powerful header and then an emphatic finish into the top corner, to put Rangers in front.
Wallace sealed the win on 56 minutes with another tidy finish to leave Warburton pleased.
“I thought we started off well and could have been two or three up after 15 or 20 minutes,” said the boss. “But we got caught and found ourselves one down. Morton defended really well and were tough. to break down.
“It was tremendous from Kenny to get us back in it though. It was a great jump and great technique and after that we knew what we had to do in the second half.
“We had to find the solution. We had to move the ball quicker, we did that and got two great goals.”
Ton boss Jim Duffy admitted he was proud of his players: “Overall we did really well. We scored a fantastic goal on the counter.
“If we got in to half-time ahead it might have been different. That goal allowed them to calm it down.
“I can’t fault my team after what they put in. I was delighted with them but Rangers are an outstanding side. They are rightly the champions elect.”