THE booing that greeted Ian Black’s Scotland debut as a late substitute in Scotland’s 3-1 victory over Australia at Easter Road on Wednesday has been condemned by the Tartan Army.
• Scotland picked up several injuries in friendly against Australia
• Opening World Cup qualifier against Serbia on September 8
Black’s selection in Craig Levein’s squad dominated pre-match headlines, after the Rangers player was called up despite his club side playing in the Third Division - a factor which had seemed to rule out another Ibrox player, Lee Wallace, from the squad. And when former Hearts player Black entered the fray for his international debut in the 85th minute, boos rang out around Easter Road from a faction of Scotland supporters.
Tartan Army spokesman Hamish Husband insists Scotland players should never be subjected to jeers from their own fans. “It’s a strange day when the Scotland fans boo a player when we’re winning. You would think they would be more grateful,” said Husband. “I don’t think you should boo at any Scotland game. There was probably more than one reason they did it but I was sitting there stunned. I think it was more a reflection on the manager but that is my personal opinion. Perhaps Levein could have handled the situation better.”
Former England captain Terry Butcher, the manager of one of Black’s former clubs Inverness, also had his say on the controversy. “I didn’t actually agree with him being selected in the first place as there are others in the SPL who warrant inclusion,” said Butcher. “There are still some good, young Scottish SPL players who I felt merited selection ahead of Blackie. Even though he had a good year last year, so did many others. But to be booed like that is out of order and I think it is unacceptable. Anybody who boos a player playing for their country shouldn’t go to the game, shouldn’t watch their country play. No matter what the circumstances are, you support that player because he represents you and your country.
“He’s an ex-Hearts player playing at Easter Road. He’s playing now for Rangers FC and there is strong public opinion against them. And there is also the fact he is playing in the Third Division now. There are a lot of factors behind the booing, but it doesn’t matter, that is totally unacceptable.”
Of more concern to Levein is the fitness of goalkeeper Allan McGregor, who is a doubt for the World Cup opener against Serbia despite scans showing no tear in his injured groin.
McGregor limped off midway through the first half against Australia, and an SFA statement reported: “Allan McGregor underwent an MRI scan [and] the scan confirmed he has suffered a groin strain. He will return to Turkey to undergo a programme of rehabilitation with Besiktas. The Scottish FA medical staff have confirmed that the recovery process will take weeks rather than days but a more specific timescale will only be established once he begins treatment at his club.”
Scotland open their World Cup campaign against Serbia at Hampden on 8 September.