The issue of team selection has been one that has plagued Gordon Strachan since he took over as manager of the National team.
With blossoming young talent in all areas of the Scotland pool and players like Ross McCormack, Jordan Rhodes and perhaps, most-notably, Leigh Griffiths not being selected in the starting XI, many are beginning to question the manager.
While Gordon Strachan has made ‘controversial’ selection decisions, the manager has always had a justification, whether it be tactical or an unreported injury.
However, to many, it appeared that Strachan had got too tactical when he deemed that Leigh Griffiths should not start against Slovakia in a 3-0 defeat because he was too small.
Strachan justified omitting Griffiths from the game because of the way that goals were scored in Euro 2016 and the fact that height was needed across the pitch. He said: “In the 51 games in the Euros the first 19 goals were scored from set-plays. That means you have to have a certain amount of height on the field to defend corners.”
However, the comments led to much criticism of the manager, with some stating that the National side were too busy trying to cancel out other teams than stick to their best side.
With Leigh Griffiths bagging more than 40 goals last season, fans have been left perplexed by the selection of Chris Martin and Steven Fletcher over the Celtic hit-man.
Such is the odd selection process and the importance of height, we take a look at these 20-plus capped Scotland players to see whether or not they would be selected in a Gordon Strachan side. To understand their chances of starting we are taking into account a number of factors such as height, goals, style of play and other attributes.
Please note: Players such as Kenny Dalglish, Jimmy Johnstone, Brain McClair and other midfielders/attacking midfielders are not deemed as strikers. We are also not able to judge players such as Lawrie Reilly, Alan Morton or others who played in the 1910s-1950s.
Ally McCoist (61 caps, 19 goals)
The Rangers and Scotland legend was at times, an unstoppable goal machine, scoring in major tournaments and continually pushing Scotland on. His flare and dynamic style of play amazed many with his goal record speaking for itself. However, post 1993, there was a slight dip in form, with the striker only scoring 20 goals in two out of eight seasons. That said however, at his peak, McCoist would be a no-brainer for most managers, and with 61 caps was a key part of the squad. At only 5ft however, there is every chance that he could be bombed out due to tactical decisions.
Overall chance of selection under Strachan, 8.5/10
Dennis Law (55 caps, 30 goals)
What can be said about Dennis Law that hasn’t already been said? As a player he was miles ahead of his time and a football brain like few others, His intelligent play was no doubt a factor in his long career, but his ability to find the back of the net was unwavering. Starting off in the Second Division, he rose to play for the likes of Manchester United and Torino. In 1967 he scored a famous winner at Wembley against the Auld Enemy, and helped Scotland reach the World Cup in 1978 for the first time in 14 years (that’s nothing now). Undoubtedly one of the best players to have played for the National Team, and he’s taller than Leigh Griffiths. A definite starter.
Overall chance of selection under Strachan 9.5/10
Kevin Gallacher (53 caps, 9 goals)
While not the most prolific of strikers, Kevin Gallacher could hold his own with the best. While traditionally a right-winger he often played as a striker for the National side, famously scoring a double at Celtic Park against Austria. While on paper, he may not be as fondly remembered as Scotland legends such as Law and McCoist, Gallacher worked well in any formation and offered managers flexibility, He also graced the Premier League for a number of years and as such, we think Strachan would have been fond of the player, who typically, saved his best for qualification ties.
Overall chance of selection under Strachan 7/10.
Joe Jordan (52 caps, 11 goals)
Having played at Leeds, Milan and Manchester United, Joe Jordan was a natural born striker. He was a handful for all defenders and at 6 ft 1 was a menace to back lines both internationally and domestically. As a player, he fits the Strachan mould, A tall striker who can link up, score goals and be physical. Probably would be seen the exact same way Steven Fletcher is on the international scene...
Overall chance of selection under Strachan 9/10
James McFadden (45 caps, 15 goals)
THAT GOAL. That’s all we need to say here really. A class player who stood out at a time when our side was struggling. A wonder goal against France and countless displays made him a favourite of all. A must have starter at the time who could play in numerous positions and who, perhaps most importantly, made us all believe again. Similar to how many hope to soon see Snodgrass?
Overall chance of selection under Strachan 9/10 +.5 for THAT GOAL alone
Gordon Durie (47 caps, 7 goals)
A tenacious player who had an eye for goal but may not have featured in a Strachan side. While he could score, a number of his goals came in friendly matches and another two came against San Marino, While there is no doubt about the quality of the player, it could be argued that he would be a “nearly man” if he played in the Strachan era. His link up play and selfless style would have been attractive to many fans, however, it could be argued that Durie wouldn’t raise eyebrows enough to truly impress the hard-to-impress Strachan.
Overall chance of selection under Strachan 7/10
Mo Johnston (38 caps, 14 goals)
A player who knew to find the goal. It’s as simple as that. However, while undoubtedly a class act on his day, the style of play of Mo Johnston would not fit the current Scotland team. His ability to run and finish though makes his selection for Scotland a must. With spells at Celtic, Rangers, Watford and Everton, there is no doubt that Jonhston could perform at the highest level, however, it would be whether Strachan would be willing to select him or not with the player often having much controversy around his every move.
Chances of selection under Strachan 7/10
Darren Jackson (28 caps, 4 goals)
It says a lot that all four goals scored by Darren Jackson came in under a two year period. For a while, he was in sublime form both domestically and internationally, but it is fair to say that he did cool as his career progressed. As a player who could adapt and played week in week out in Scotland, there is every chance that Strachan could have been won over. However, it is unlikely that Strachan would have been willing to give Jackson many chances and if selected, would have probably opted to have him as a winger.
Overall chance of selection under Strachan 5.5/10
Steve Archibald (27 caps, 4 goals)
A Scotland Hall-of-Famer who had spells at Barcelona, Tottenham, Hibs and more, Steve Archibald was a prolific striker who could work well in a partnership. His partnership with Joe Harper and others was exceptionally memorable and as a player who could be used almost anywhere in the park, he would be exceptionally useful to the Scotland squad. However, it could be said that he would not fit the style of play preferred by Gordon Strachan, who does enjoying playing one upfront...
Overall chance of selection under Strachan 6.5/10
Billy Dodds (26 caps, 7 goals)
A natural born goal scorer. That’s the easiest way to sum up Billy Dodds, but as such it could be argued that he would not be selected by Strachan. While no doubt a talented player who performed well for Scotland when needed, Dodds, did not bring much else to his game. While he was always a threat in and around the box, he could not really adapt to other roles or play upfront on his own. If history has shown anything, it is that Strachan doesn’t often select players who can only score.
Overall chance of selection under Strachan 5/10
Don Hutchison (26 caps, goals 6)
There’s a lot that scoring against England can get you, and for Don Hutchison, it is a place in Scottish folklore. At 6 ft 1 the much-loved striker would be a favourite for Strachan with his link up play, cool finishing and sheer passion making him a man of the fans. The striker while not often prolific was an all-rounder and would most likely have a fan in Strachan.
Overall chance of selection under Strachan 6.5/10
Stephen Crawford (25 caps, 4 goals)
Stephen Crawford was a player who ran on form, and if in form, there were few who could deal with the pace of the striker. While he was once the main man for the National team, Crawford could be hit or miss and struggle to get in games. As such, it’s most likely that he would be in the outskirts of the team.
Overall chance of selection under Strachan 4/10
Davie Cooper 22 caps, 6 goals (7/10)
Alan Gilzean 22 caps, 12 goals (7,5/10)
Peter Lorimer 31 caps, 4 goals (6.5/10)
Charlie Nicolas (20 caps, 5 goals) (7.5/10)