Paul Hartley: Shame on Scotland players who ‘pick and choose’

Former Scotland midfielder Paul Hartley believes some of the players who opted out of the calamitous Euro 2020 qualifying defeat in Kazakhstan should be ashamed of themselves.

Paul Hartley was always proud to play for Scotland. Picture: Paul Devlin/SNS
Paul Hartley was always proud to play for Scotland. Picture: Paul Devlin/SNS

Hartley has questioned the depth of commitment to the Scotland cause after manager Alex McLeish’s plans were severely hampered by the number of players unavailable for selection for the opening round of Group I fixtures.

Pointing to the example set by Real Madrid star Gareth Bale, whose passionate loyalty to Wales saw him win his 75th cap as they made a winning start to their Euro 2020 campaign at the weekend, Hartley expressed his dismay at the apparent attitude of several Scots towards representing their country.

Sign up to our Football newsletter

A number of English Premier League-based Scottish internationals, including Newcastle United winger Matt Ritchie, West Ham United midfielder Robert Snodgrass and Fulham midfielder Tom Cairney, are currently unwilling to be considered for international duty.

Two more players from the English top flight – Bournemouth winger Ryan Fraser and Cardiff City utility man Callum Paterson – missed out on the defeat in Kazakhstan because of concerns over the artificial pitch before then playing in Sunday’s 2-0 win in San Marino.

Sheffield Wednesday striker Steven Fletcher was absent from both games, citing the “management of injury issues” despite still playing for the English Championship club.

“We’ve got players who are picking and choosing when to play and that has an impact on the manager,” said Hartley, who was part of the Scotland squad which came so close to reaching the Euro 2008 finals under McLeish.

“I was always proud to turn up for my country and play and, if you look at a superstar like Gareth Bale, he won’t not turn up for Wales unless he’s really injured.

“It puts some of our players to shame. Why not turn up for your country? We can’t have people picking and choosing their games because of an astroturf pitch.

“It’s a one-off game. Are you trying to tell me they wouldn’t play for their clubs on an astroturf pitch? Of course they would play. I just don’t get why you wouldn’t want to play for your country.”