Six players who’ll feel they deserved a chance to impress in at least one of Gordon Strachan’s two national team squads.
There are numerous others who could be added to this list. This is just those who’ll feel slighted the most by their omission.
Johnny Russell (Derby County)
The defence of Russell’s non-selection is that he is someone who’d likely get a call-up were this a competitive match. This is an accurate assessment. He’s been included in recent squads after impressing in his cameo against England, earning four caps in total.
However, while Russell has been around the squad for the past 18 months, he’s yet to start a game. He’s also someone who can play on the wing, in the hole or lead the line. It may have been a useful exercise to try and find out which one of those positions suits him best at international level. The player himself would have been desperate to get his first start and really show his worth.
Jordan Rhodes (Middlesbrough)
Rhodes is similar to Russell. Strachan says he knows everything he needs to about the striker, but having barely received a sniff of first-team action for the national side since Strachan took over it’s doubtful Rhodes would agree with the manager’s assessment. He’ll feel he’s got a lot to prove and could maybe change Strachan’s perception of him. It’s hard to do so without a chance, however.
While the selection of some new faces at the expense of those who’ve been on the periphery is understandable, it must be galling for these players when they see other peripheral players remain in the squad. 35-year-old Gordon Greer being the best example.
Graeme Shinnie (Aberdeen)
Shinnie is another player Strachan said he knew all about, which is an odd thing to say as he’s been called up to only one squad. Sure, that means he knows more about the Aberdeen full-back than the likes of Tony Watt, Oliver Burke and Liam Cooper, but it will be pretty galling for Shinnie if he’s sat at home watching the game and Ikechi Anya – only ever used by Strachan as a winger – plays at left-back at any point against Denmark. As well as being excellent on the left side of the defence, Shinnie can be a real driving presence in the centre of the park and his true value could be at the heart of the action. Aberdeen haven’t even fully decided what his strongest position is, so it’s unlikely the Scotland boss has a better idea.
Anya’s inclusion as left-back in one squad and left-midfielder in another (one of four players is both squads) is down to Strachan wanting to those who’ve not been playing a lot of late extra game-time. While the players and their clubs may appreciate this, it remains to be seen how this will benefit our qualification chances.
Lee Wallace (Rangers)
When Rangers were in the third tier, Wallace was still a part of the Scotland squad. He then, rightly, dropped out of contention after his form took a huge dip in the latter half of the 2013/14 season and then the whole of the last campaign.
He’s since regained his best form, playing regularly at a level that matches his initial spell after joining the Ibrox club from Hearts. While he’s deservedly behind Andrew Robertson and Steven Whittaker in the pecking order at left-back, with 38 places up for grabs he would feel slighted he didn’t earn a place in either squad. Some have said there’s little point throwing the 29-year-old back into the fold, but then the same argument could be made of Charlie Mulgrew, who’s barely played in a year and, with his mounting injury issues, may have even less of an international future than Wallace.
Jamie Walker (Hearts)
The inclusion of John McGinn is likely to have irked a few Hearts fans. There are a number of excellent youngsters at Tynecastle, as evidenced by five Riccarton youth products in the under-21s, and yet the only Edinburgh footballer to make the squad is Hibs talisman John McGinn.
John Souttar and Sam Nicholson were mooted in the weeks leading up to the announcement, while Callum Paterson may have been included if not for his injury, but the best Scottish player at the club is Walker. He made an excellent start to the season before being derailed by injury, but he’s been finding his best form again in recent weeks and perhaps should have received greater consideration.
Michael O’Halloran (Rangers)
Rangers fans are unhappy that neither Barrie McKay nor Jason Holt were considered. In actual fact, O’Halloran is the biggest snub due to his top flight pedigree.
There were calls for the flying winger to be included in the national team when he was at St Johnstone, and now he’s had the Old Firm signing seal of approval that Scotland bosses love so much, it’s perhaps surprising not to see him included in either of the experimental squads.
With his searing pace and direct running he’s certainly the type of player Gordon Strachan likes, as evidenced by his loyalty to both Anya and James Forrest.
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