The midfielder is yet to win a full Scotland cap but Brendan Rodgers believes born-again Stuart Armstrong has “everything needed” to play international football.
Armstrong credited Rodgers with rejuvenating his Celtic career after Saturday’s 2-1 Old Firm victory over Rangers at Ibrox. Now the Celtic manager has repaid the compliment, describing Armstrong as having qualities guaranteed to mean Scotland manager Gordon Strachan is considering him for a call-up.
“He’s got big, big qualities that can really set him up in the game now,” said Rodgers. “He’s shown he’s improving all the time so if he keeps going – you can’t ever become complacent, which he wouldn’t – and keeps knocking on the door, I’m sure Gordon will look at him and think he’s doing a great job.”
While Armstrong has been named in Scotland squads before when with Dundee United, the 24-year-old has yet to play for the national team.
He turns 25 four days after Scotland’s next competitive fixture, against Slovenia at Hampden on 26 March, although a friendly is expected to be arranged shortly before this vital World Cup qualifier.
Against Rangers on Saturday Armstrong was again at the heart of a commanding Celtic performance in front of the watching Strachan, who was working as a pundit for Sky Sports.
Armstrong has scored eight league goals for Celtic this season since breaking back into the team in August – the same number as Leigh Griffiths and just one fewer than Moussa Dembele.
Strachan enthused on television about the midfielder, who came close to adding to this tally against Rangers. Rodgers has now endorsed his credentials for a Scotland call-up.
“I always look at what you need to play at international level, to play at the highest level you want to be effective,” the Celtic manager said. “You want a midfield player that’s got a high level of technique and has got mobility to run and be physical and he’s got all that.
“Like I said, everything you need to play at that level he has.”
Dembele and Scott Sinclair have 25 goals between them in all competitions, while Griffiths has weighed in with another 13. But Armstrong, with eight, is fourth in the list of Celtic goalscorers this season, one above Tom Rogic on seven goals. Rodgers believes not relying on one principal source of goals is the recipe for success.
“We needed to find multiple scorers in the team because you are never going to succeed if you only have one player who is going to score the goals,” he said. “Tom Rogic got 10 goals last season, I said to him he has to look for 20 with his qualities and our style of playing.”