Six Scotland Euro 2024 hopefuls out of contract this summer - Rangers situation, possible Celtic return, 15m striker

Future uncertain for six players hoping to earn call-up to Steve Clarke’s squad for Germany

Euro 2024 is on the horizon and the time is fast approaching for Steve Clarke to hand out his golden tickets.

While the Scotland head coach has a big call to make over which 26 players make the cut, six of his squad hopefuls are also facing major decisions over where their futures lie beyond the summer. Liam Kelly, Liam Cooper, Scott McKenna, Ryan Jack, Stuart Armstrong and Che Adams all become free agents when their contracts expire at the end of the season and face going to the tournament – if selected – with their situations unresolved.

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What could the summer have in store for each of those players for both club and country?

Scotland's Che Adams is valued at £15m but could leave Southampton for nothing this summer. (Photo by Craig Foy / SNS Group)Scotland's Che Adams is valued at £15m but could leave Southampton for nothing this summer. (Photo by Craig Foy / SNS Group)
Scotland's Che Adams is valued at £15m but could leave Southampton for nothing this summer. (Photo by Craig Foy / SNS Group)

Rangers midfielder Ryan Jack has been a squad regular under Steve Clarke throughout his five-year tenure, and at times, a valued contributer on the field. More recently, however, Jack has become a bit-part figure, both for Rangers and Scotland due to ongoing struggles with fitness and a seemingly never-ending cycle of recurring calf problems. Jack has not started a Scotland match in 14 months and failed to make the most recent squad in March due to his latest injury setback. He hasn't featured for Rangers since February although manager Philippe Clement said last week that the 32-year-old is nearing a return. If Jack can prove his fitness in his four remaining club matches – which include two high-octane Old Firm derbies in this weekend's Premiership title showdown and the Scottish Cup final on May 15 – then Clarke would be likely to call up a player who has served him well in the past.

But whether that will be enough for Jack to earn a new Rangers deal remains to be seen. Should he depart Ibrox after seven years then it will be fascinating to see where he ends up. He would be a fantastic signing for any Scottish club with aspirations of pushing for third place, providing he can put those injury woes behind him. Would Aberdeen fans welcome him back after the animosity his departure generated?

Goalkeeper Liam Kelly has been with Motherwell since 2021 but manager Stuart Kettlewell has admitted it will be difficult to keep hold of him beyond the summer. Kelly has been involved in virtually every Scotland squad since 2021 mostly as an unused substitute in his role as third-choice goalkeeper. He was rewarded for his perseverance with a first cap in the 4-0 defeat to France last year and it would be a surprise if he was not on the plane to Germany given Clarke's loyalty to such players. His performances at Fir Park - backed up by his international credentials - will likely see him move on to pastures new with a return to England, where he previously had a two-year spell with Queens Park Rangers, a possibility. With Celtic in the market for a goalkeeper to replace the retiring Joe Hart this summer could Kelly feature on a list of targets? They could do a lot worse.

Liam Cooper has captained Leeds for much of the past decade but his Elland Road future is up in the air as his current deal ticks down. The 32-year-old has only made one substitute appearance since January and no new deal has been forthcoming as yet. His lack of recent first-team action could jeopardize his Scotland Euro 2024 place, but with 18 caps behind him, his experience could be too vital for Clarke to ignore when it comes to selecting his defence. Celtic and Rangers may be keeping an eye on developments, with a left-sided centre-back a possible priority position for both this summer.

Rangers midfielder Ryan Jack's Euro 2024 place is uncertain due to ongoing fitness issues. (Photo by Craig Foy / SNS Group)Rangers midfielder Ryan Jack's Euro 2024 place is uncertain due to ongoing fitness issues. (Photo by Craig Foy / SNS Group)
Rangers midfielder Ryan Jack's Euro 2024 place is uncertain due to ongoing fitness issues. (Photo by Craig Foy / SNS Group)

Which leads us to Scott McKenna, currently on loan at FC Copenhagen from Nottingham Forest, and soon to become a free agent. Both Celtic and Rangers were linked with the 27-year-old in the January window, so it would be no surprise to see the former Aberdeen defender pitch up in Glasgow after the Euros. McKenna missed the March internationals but started Scotland's previous four matches and would be expected to be in the squad for Germany. He will be all the better for his experience in Denmark - which included appearances in the Champions League knock-out stages and may even be considered among the favourites to start the tournament opener against the hosts in Munich on June 14.

Both Celtic and Rangers will also be in the market for a proven goalscorer this summer, with experience of playing at a high level, and who comes within an attainable price range. It is not often that a £15million-rated striker becomes available on a free transfer but Southampton's Che Adams is one such player. However, with Wolves, Everton and Nottingham Forest all reportedly interested in signing the 27-year-old ahead of next season, he is much more likely to still be playing his football in England next season, and could even remain with Saints if they go up, given the wages on offer in the Premier League would dwarf what either Old Firm club could offer. Adams is a certainty for Euro 2024, and may even have played his way into a starting position after a blistering second half of the season in the Championship, where he took his goal tally for the campaign from three to 18, with the promotion play-offs still to come.

His Southampton team-mate Stuart Armstrong is another who could be set to leave in the summer. His season was ended prematurely by injury although he remains hopeful of returning in time to make the Euros where he will look to add to the 50th cap won against Northern Ireland in March. Armstrong made the move to the South Coast in the summer of 2018, joining from Celtic in a deal worth a reported £7m. He has made 30 or more appearances across all competitions for Saints in every single season since, so it has come as a surprise that he has not been secured on a new contract. Could a return to Celtic be on the cards where he previously played under Brendan Rodgers during the Northern Irishman's first spell in charge? Time will tell.



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