ST JOHNSTONE striker Stevie May’s hopes of a first call-up to the senior Scotland squad next month may be scuppered by the country’s bid to reach the finals of the 2015 European Under-21 Championship.
May has scored 26 times in an outstanding season for the Perth club, helping them reach the Scottish Cup final for the first time in their history.
His recent form has elevated him into contention for a place in Scotland manager Gordon Strachan’s squad for the challenge match against Nigeria in London on 28 May. But Strachan may decide to leave the prolific 21-year-old at the disposal of Scotland under-21 coach Billy Stark for his crucial Euro qualifier against the Netherlands in Paisley, which takes place the same evening.
“We have been talking about that,” said Strachan. “We have to ask what is best for the players concerned. Is it better for them to play 90 minutes for the under-21s, or to play 20 minutes for the full squad and be with the full squad? That’s the decision we have to make along with Billy Stark.
“There are players there you think ‘yeah, he could step up’, but I’ll talk to Billy about that. A lot will depend on who’s fit and who’s not fit at the time. As a national body, do we want them in the under-21s for their games or do we want them in the full squad to get involved in that environment and get to know me a bit more, which is always handy?
“They might play 20 minutes for the full team or they might not play at all. You have to make choices and you might just be 1-0 up in the game and now want to make a change. So I don’t want to promise someone 30 minutes and then not get him on. You set out those kind of ideas, but then you are maybe 1-0 up with 20 minutes to play and you just want to win the game. So we need to take that into consideration.”
Strachan confirmed there could be some new faces in his squad next month as he looks ahead to the Euro 2016 qualifiers, which start in September. “There are a lot of players playing well at the moment,” he added. “I’m trying to build a group of maybe 35-40 players I know can play to the system, that I can trust them, that I know will be good with the squad and who will put Scotland first and not themselves.”
Scotland have climbed to 22nd in the Fifa world rankings on the back of a current five-match unbeaten run. “You pay absolutely no attention to them when you are going down the rankings,” smiled Strachan. “But it’s great fun when you are going up. You think ‘what a good idea!’
“All you can take from them is looking back at the recent games and thinking ‘yes, I enjoyed parts of that, it was good’.”