The most noteworthy sour-faced grumbles regard the inclusion of Che Adams. The Southampton striker previously turned down Scotland when approached by Alex McLeish in 2017 and this is enough evidence for some that he’s nothing more than an English mercenary who doesn’t give two sods about his adopted nation and only wants to join up with the squad for the chance to play at the Euros.
This line of thinking is daft for a number of reasons. Firstly, even if that is his motivation, it’ll only be of any use to his career prospects if he plays well and scores goals at this summer’s tournament, and if he does that then we’ll have a great chance of advancing to the second round for the first time ever. Do that and he can set fire to a saltire for all I care.
That’s unlikely to be his prime focus, though, seeing as he’s still 24 and playing in the English Premier League. A second of game time in any of these three upcoming qualifiers would tie him to Scotland for life. Choosing to do that just to play an international tournament for a country who has only made one in over 20 years would be short-sighted to say the least.
Let’s also try and remember that when he was asked before he was only 20 years old, and at a time when playing for Scotland was about as appealing as dental surgery. He can surely be forgiven.
The selection of Jack Hendry was a good indication that Steve Clarke has been keeping an eye on players outside of Britain, so fans were disappointed Ryan Gauld wasn’t included. He’s been one of the stand-out playmakers in Portugal and is an out-and-out No.10, something the squad otherwise lacks. Sure, you could say Ryan Christie fills that role, but he can’t even get a start for Celtic in the position because David Turnbull is performing better. There’s also John McGinn and Stuart Armstrong, but both are at their best playing as a No.8, which magnifies their industry and ability to cut through the lines.
Speaking of Turnbull, his omission indicates the eight centre-midfielders in the squad (also including John Fleck, Kenny McLean, Scott McTominay, Ryan Jack and Callum McGregor) will be on the bus this summer as Clarke mainly sticks to his club-team mentality. Though that’s exactly what you should be doing in international football – chopping and changing the squad constantly to meet demands of player form is just daft – he should perhaps have rotated one member out on this occasion for either of the aforementioned playmakers, just to keep everyone on their toes if nothing else.
St Johnstone supporters were not particularly happy that neither of Jason Kerr nor Shaun Rooney made the squad. Again, a valid argument. The players starting in their positions, Motherwell’s Declan Gallagher and Stephen O’Donnell, have each had poorer campaigns than the Saints pair. But is Clarke really going to remove two members of the back five with just three games to go before the Euros? Rooney for Liam Palmer may have sufficed, but it’s a minor gripe in an otherwise strong squad.