First time call-ups and Celtic and Hearts absentees: Five talking points from Steve Clarke's Scotland squad announcement

Steve Clarke has brought some fresh blood into his Scotland squad for the upcoming World Cup qualifiers against Denmark, Moldovia and Austria, but there remains a distinctly familiar look to the 26-man squad.

Scotland manager Steve Clarke is pictured at Hampden after announcing his squad for the upcoming World Cup qualifiers (Photo by Alan Harvey / SNS Group)
Scotland manager Steve Clarke is pictured at Hampden after announcing his squad for the upcoming World Cup qualifiers (Photo by Alan Harvey / SNS Group)
Scotland manager Steve Clarke is pictured at Hampden after announcing his squad for the upcoming World Cup qualifiers (Photo by Alan Harvey / SNS Group)

Here are five talking points from the announcement:

Goalkeeping change

Liam Kelly or Zander Clark was the question. Steve Clarke' s answer was both. Despite his hero status from Serbia, it was widely accepted that David Marshall's time was up after being demoted to third choice at Derby County on the back of conceding from the halfway line at the Euros, but also dropping Jon McLaughlin has allowed two younger, in-form keepers into the squad, which is exactly what Scotland need going forward. Having three shotstoppers with a combined age of 107 was never a long-term option. Craig Gordon will now be instantly promoted to no.1, and rightly so based on his Hearts form, but in Clark and Kelly there is a clear and welcome shift towards the future.

The in-form absentees

If showing consistent form at a good level is a pre-requisite for national team recognition then John Souttar and Anthony Ralston are within their rights to be disappointed with their omission. Neither were anywhere near Clarke's radar for the Euros, for different reasons. Souttar was only a few matches into his comeback from long-term injury but Hearts' upturn in form – and clean sheet record – that stretched from the end of last season into the start of the current one was in no small part due to return of the three-times capped centre-back. Ralston meanwhile was completely out of the picture and written off at Celtic last season, only to emerge as a key member of Ange Postecoglou's side that has won six matches in a row with determined, all-action performances and a couple of goals to boot. He is proving his doubters wrong, but has a bit to do to win over Clarke it seems.

Lewis Ferguson

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The Aberdeen midfielder receives his first call-up to the senior side and Dons fans will tell you it's well deserved. Coming from good Rangers stock – the son of Derek and the nephew of Barry – the 21-year-old's natural ability is clear to see. Put that together with his physical attributes and you have a player with international potential. Perhaps benefitting from injuries to the likes of Ryan Jack and Scott McTominay, this is nonetheless a chance for Ferguson to show that, while undoubtedly a future Scotland regular in the making, he can offer something to the national side now.

Scott McTominay

The Man Utd midfielder's injury went under the radar somewhat but his absence will be keenly felt in the upcoming triple-header. Any player logging regular minutes at one of the biggest clubs in the world would be a miss for Scotland, but McTominay's versatility narrows Clarke's options in both defence and midfield. It opens the door to Jack Hendry possibly reclaiming the right centre-back berth, having been dropped for McTominay in the England and Croatia matches after starting the Euros opener against the Czechs.

Billy Gilmour

Just seeing his name in the Scotland squad again is enough to stir excitement after that performance at Wembley and fresh from Jurgen Klopp hailing him among the greatest Scottish talents in the last 50 years. We still haven't got over the feeling of being robbed of his talents in that deciding match against the Croatians, and how we missed him. But, all going well, the Scottish Iniesta will be in line to start against the Danes in Copenhagen on September 1.

To see the full Scotland squad click HERE

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