Ryan Jack’s season may be over as he recuperates from knee surgery but interim Rangers manager Graeme Murty insists he is the natural successor to Scott Brown at international level.
Brown, who earned 55 caps, announced his retirement from the national team yesterday on Celtic’s website after discussions with returning Scotland boss Alex McLeish over the weekend.
He had stepped down initially in 2016, but returned to play for Gordon Strachan in a bid to lead Scotland to Russia 2018. The 32-year-old now feels he cannot make the commitment due to the sheer volume of matches at club level
Murty feels Jack would be the perfect fit to take over from Brown as McLeish rebuilds and tries to drive Scotland to qualification for Euro 2020, ending a barren run that stretches back to the World Cup in France in 1998.
He is also tipping Greg Docherty, Jamie Murphy and Jason Cummings to force their way into McLeish’s plans.
Murty said: “Now Scott has gone there is a space in the middle of the pitch where Ryan is more naturally inclined to play.
“That would fit him quite well but we have to make sure we get him back fit. Then he has to thrust himself, as Greg does, in front of the manager’s eye-line to get his attention.
“A new manager has come in and there are spots up for grabs. I know this is the cliché but it’s a blank canvas.
“Historically, Rangers central midfield players have played for Scotland. That’s the level Greg needs to be looking at and aspire to be at. I have not seen anything in the young man’s attitude or ability to think anything different.”
Murty, who is seeking victory over St Johnstone in Perth tonight, is set to have talks with McLeish, however, over potential call-ups for the controversial post-season games in Peru and Mexico.
He was capped in similar circumstances at the 2006 Kirin Cup but he will be reluctant to let players go, especially if Rangers, as expected, have Europa League qualifiers in early July.
He said: “I loved going to Japan. It was a fantastic, life-affirming experience and it was really good to be away with a Scotland group and play some difficult games in different conditions.
“I’m really thankful football gave me the opportunity to experience that.
“Now I am on the other side of it. I think we need to have conversations and make sure, first and foremost, that the players are protected.
“We need to have ongoing discourse to make sure their physiological needs and wants are met. But I’m certain that, as long as those are outlined, the national team has the skills and mindset necessary to fulfil both their needs as a national team and our needs as a club side.”