Charlie Nicholas: ‘If you don’t want to play for Scotland then go away’

Sky Sports pundit Charlie Nicholas. Picture: John Devlin
Sky Sports pundit Charlie Nicholas. Picture: John Devlin
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Former striker Charlie Nicholas says it is time for Scotland to close the door on the stay-away players who pick and choose when they represent their country.

The recriminations from the 3-0 loss to Kazakhstan have continued 24 hours from the nightmare in Nursultan. While Alex McLeish continues to face calls for his head from sections of the Tartan Army, former Celtic and Arsenal player Nicholas has taken aim at the players who failed to report for duty at the Astana Arena.

While the likes of skipper Andy Robertson and Kieran Tierney had valid medical reasons for missing the clash, there has been frustration voiced that Steven Fletcher, Callum Paterson and Ryan Fraser were also absent despite having featured recently for their clubs.

Matt Ritchie, Robert Snodgrass and Tom Cairney have also dropped out of the international picture in recent months despite having performed well at a domestic level. Now Nicholas says it is time they are shut out unless they firmly pin their colours to Scotland’s mast. The television pundit – capped 20 times for Scotland – told Sky Sports News HQ: “A lot of players don’t want to come and play for their country. If that’s the case we just have to accept it.

“We are where we are. We’re not a top nation anymore. We don’t have an abundance of talent. We have talented players that you can work with but we don’t have a lot of numbers in that.

“Even if that means we have to shake up the Under-21s and bring in younger players.

“It’s ’98 since we were last at a proper competition. The difference in quality is there but you can still get a blend of youth and experience that want to play for your country.

“If you don’t want to play for Scotland, then go away. Sadly we’re getting used to that embarrassment as Scotland fans now.”