Scotland 'run rule' over EPL star ahead of possible World Cup play-off call-up

Scotland head coach Steve Clarke is reportedly running the rule over Newcastle United defender Matt Targett with a view to a possible call-up for the World Cup play-offs in June.

Newcastle defender Matt Targett is on Steve Clarke's radar for a Scotland call-up, according to reports. (Photo by Naomi Baker/Getty Images)
Newcastle defender Matt Targett is on Steve Clarke's radar for a Scotland call-up, according to reports. (Photo by Naomi Baker/Getty Images)

The on-loan Aston Villa left-back is one of a number of January signings to have made a big impression at St James' Park, helping transform the Magpies from relegation contenders into one of the form sides in the Premier League over the past few months.

Targett was overlooked by England for last month's friendly matches against Ivory Coast and Switzerland and now Clarke looks set to make his move with Chronicle Live reporting that the 26-year-old was watched by Scotland representatives during the 1-0 win over Crystal Palace on Wednesday night.

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Born in Hampshire, Targett qualifies for Scotland through his grandmother. He has featured for England Under-21s, where he was capped 12 times, after previously representing Scotland at youth level. He came through the ranks at Southampton before earning an £11.5million move to Villa in 2019.

He fell out of the Villa first-team picture under Steven Gerrard before moving on loan to Newcastle, who are now weighing up a permanent move.

Scotland are facing the prospect of five matches in 14 days starting with the crucial rearranged World Cup play-off semi-final against Ukraine at Hampden on June 1, where victory would set up a final against Wales in Cardiff four days later for a place in Qatar 2022.

It is then straight into a Nations League triple-header with matches against Armenia home and away on June 8 and 14 either side of a trip to Dublin to face Republic of Ireland on June 11.

The tough schedule will likely mean squad rotation and Targett coud be viewed as a possible stand-in for captain Andy Robertson, who faces a gruelling end to the campaign with Liverpool, who are contesting the Premier League title, the FA Cup final, and potentially the Champions League final – which takes place just four days before the Ukraine play-off – if they overcome Villarreal in the semis.

With Arsenal’s Kieran Tierney also an injury doubt for Scotland’s June fixtures after undergoing knee surgery, Targett’s Premier League experience could move him ahead of the likes of Greg Taylor and Aaron Hickey in the pecking order to provide cover for Robertson.

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