Scotland coach hits out at bookings rule that rules Grant Hanley out and risks six suspensions - but Israel have it worse

John Carver has criticised the suspension rule which means Scotland must cope without defensive mainstay Grant Hanley in Saturday’s crucial clash against Israel.

Grant Hanley, seen here after the 2-0 defeat to Denmark in Copenhagen, was booked in Scotland's last outing against Austria. The defender misses Saturday's World Cup qualifier with Israel due to suspension. (Photo by Alan Harvey / SNS Group)

The Scotland assistant manager is aghast that two bookings in a campaign comprising as many as ten matches triggers an automatic one-match suspension.

Hanley has started Scotland’s last nine competitive matches, including all three Euro 2020 group games, but will sit out on Saturday in the meeting between the second and third-placed teams in Group F.

Sign up to our Football newsletter

Sign up to our Football newsletter

A win will go a long way to helping secure the runners-up position for the Scots and a place in the play-offs for next winter’s World Cup finals in Qatar.

As well as Hanley missing out, six others will be walking a suspension tightrope ahead of Tuesday night’s trip to face another set of old foes in the shape of the Faroe Isles.

Hanley’s fellow centre half Jack Hendry is one match away from a ban, as is Che Adams, Ryan Christie, Lyndon Dykes, Stephen O’Donnell and Kevin Nisbet.

Hanley was booked in the second half against Austria following a tussle in the Scotland box and will be in the stand when Steve Clarke’s side take on Israel at a sold-out Hampden Park.

Carver questioned the sense in setting a limit of just two bookings before a suspension automatically kicks in. For example, the threshold is three yellow cards in the group stage of the Champions League, where there are four fewer games than a six-team World Cup qualifying group.

“It is a bit of a strange decision if you ask me,” he said. “I think three is probably the normal mark. There’s not a great deal of leeway and it can affect you, especially when it gets down to those games at the end of the group which are very, very important.

“It is harsh but I’m not the one who dictates the rules and regulations. I’m just the guy who coaches and assists for Scotland!”

Carver is confident Scotland have sufficient strength in depth to cope with Hanley’s absence. “We are disappointed that Grant’s not with us for this next game,” he said. “He has been outstanding, certainly in the time that I’ve been here. The discipline is not something we bang home about.

"We have a group of players who are very well disciplined among themselves and nobody wants to miss out. It’s a fine line, only two bookings and then you get a suspension.

“I think Grant was slightly unfortunate to get the booking he got in Austria but he did and we have to deal with it,” he added. “But the good news is we’ve got Scott McTominay who can play in midfield or at the back, who’s coming back into the squad and is fully fit after surgery.

"And we’ve got Jack Hendry who’s just played against the best three players in the world, Neymar, Messi and Mbappe, and played really well.

“We’ve got other guys, Tierney, Cooper, Scott McKenna, playing reasonably well for their own clubs and full of confidence.”

Israel are even more entitled to consider the yellow cards rule as harsh. They will be without suspended former Celtic defender Hatem Abd Elhamed on Saturday and have nine more players sitting on a booking as the group reaches its crucial stage.

Get a year of unlimited access to all The Scotsman's sport coverage without the need for a full subscription. Expert analysis of the biggest games, exclusive interviews, live blogs, transfer news and 70 per cent fewer ads on Scotsman.com - all for less than £1 a week. Subscribe to us today

 0 comments

Want to join the conversation? Please or to comment on this article.