Scotland v Australia: Clean slate for recalled Ross McCormack
ROSS McCormack’s time has come again but the striker has defended his right to be upset by the number of times he was overlooked by Scotland despite scoring regularly for Leeds United last season.
While two of McCormack’s seven caps to date have been awarded by Craig Levein, the player reacted to being ignored ahead of a match against Slovenia in February by complaining about the snub in a newspaper article. The striker hit out at being left out in favour of players who were not playing, never mind scoring, for their clubs at the time.
Levein refused to be drawn into a war of words, merely observing that he was glad that players were so desperate to play for Scotland. Some wondered whether it might develop into the same sort of stand-off which continues to keep Steven Fletcher’s international career in cold storage. However, a calf injury sustained by James Mackie led Levein to call McCormack up on Sunday night ahead of tomorrow night’s friendly with Australia at Easter Road. Although the player had yet to speak with the manager yesterday morning, he did not anticipate any problems.
“I haven’t seen the gaffer as yet,” said McCormack. “But I would like to think there won’t be any grudges held, otherwise he would not have brought me back into the squad. I think it will be business as usual.”
Although McCormack acknowledges he might have been “naive” in expressing his frustrations via the media he stressed that it had been a tough time for him and his family.
Much had been expected of McCormack after he started against the Netherlands in a World Cup 2010 qualifier under George Burley and then scored his first goal for his country against Iceland five days later.
“I never thought I had arrived as such, but I thought I was maybe becoming a bit more established when I started two games in a row,” he said.
“It just feels great to be back,” he added. “There was disappointment when I missed out before, but what counts now is that I have the opportunity to be part of the squad. I never really worried about whether speaking about it [the frustration] would count against me. When you are scoring goals and still missing out on squads, it is disappointing. That is how I felt at the time. But this squad is hopefully a new start.”
With it being over a year since he last played for Scotland, the striker was asked whether he had ever considered withdrawing his name from consideration for squads. Fletcher, who also scored on the night McCormack claimed his first goal in the 2-1 over Iceland, will not play for Scotland again under Levein after he ruled himself out of contention for a game against Northern Ireland in a text message sent to one of the manager’s backroom staff.
“That didn’t enter my head at all, not at all,” said McCormack. “For me it is a big honour to come away with the squad and represent your country. I would never turn my back on Scotland.”
With Jordan Rhodes set to play up front from the start tomorrow night, McCormack could play in a wide position, or else replace the Huddersfield Town striker at some point. “I don’t think I have changed much as a player since my last appearance for Scotland, though I have probably matured a bit as a person,” he said.
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Saturday 25 May 2013
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