Scotland boss Steve Clarke explains decisions over Celtic trio

Steve Clarke has named his Scotland squad for the upcoming World Cup qualifiers – with much debate over who should and should not have been included.

Celtic striker Leigh Griffiths has been left out of Steve Clarke's Scotland squad for next week's World Cup qualifiers (Photo by Craig Williamson / SNS Group)
Celtic striker Leigh Griffiths has been left out of Steve Clarke's Scotland squad for next week's World Cup qualifiers (Photo by Craig Williamson / SNS Group)

The backbone of the side that qualified for this summer’s Euro 2020 remains in place but there are also new faces with Southampton striker Che Adams and Hibs front man Kevin Nisbet bringing some much-needed freshness to the attack.

A hot topic is the omission of Celtic midfielder David Turnbull – one of the Scottish Premiership’s star performers this season – while the decision to drop Leigh Griffiths is more self-explanatory with the striker struggling for first team action in recent weeks.

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The inclusion of Celtic outcast Jack Hendry – currently impressing on-loan at KV Oostende in Belgium – has also proved a talking point, with the 25-year-old defender earning a recall having won the last of his three caps in October 2018.

Clarke’s side are due to face Austria, Israel and Faroe Islands in a triple-header next week as they kick-off their bid to qualify for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

On his decision to bring Hendry back into the fold, the national boss said: "I think it's really important to have him. Obviously Grant Hanley's back in the squad as well, I had Grant in the squad in November but he had to pull out with an injury.

"Jack's a player that I've known from my time working in Scotland. Obviously he was a great prospect at Dundee, I liked his attributes.

"He went to Celtic and it didn't quite work out for him but he's shown a good maturity and gone away to try and restart his career.

"He came back from Australia where he picked up an injury, then he's gone out to Belgium, playing at a good level, week in week out. Unfortunately I can only watch him on video, it's not been possible to get out to Belgium to watch him live.

"Sometimes the best way to pick up a player and find out how he is in the squad is to get him in and have a look in training.”

Clarke revealed that the strength of competition for places in the Scotland midfield was a factor in overlooking Turnbull, but insisted the former Motherwell youngster remains in his thoughts for the Euros and beyond.

"I think when you look at the players we've got there in midfield, it's a really strong area,” he said.

"David's a good player, he's done really well, and certainly one for the future and one to keep an eye on."

The decision not to include Griffiths was due to his lack of match fitness, Clarke explained, with the 30-year-old striker, who has scored seven goals for Celtic this season, not starting a match since being subbed at half-time in the 2-1 defeat to St Mirren at the end of January.

Clarke added: "I think for Leigh it's well documented that he's not getting much game time at Celtic. I've spoken to all the boys who were in the last squad and not in this one, and they know what to expect and what to do to try and get back in the squads.

"Leigh is one of those players."

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