Craig Gordon put in firing line by Alex McLeish’s Scotland plan

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Craig Gordon has questioned his role in Scotland manager Alex McLeish’s goalkeeper rotation policy and backed his Celtic team-mate Leigh Griffiths to return after the striker snubbed his last call-up.

At the start of Scotland’s Uefa Nations League campaign, McLeish said the Celtic keeper and Rangers counterpart Allan McGregor would feature game-about as he did not want to nail down a No 1 for the position. But the in-form McGregor has started both competitive games against Albania and Israel and was the only player to emerge with any credit from the dispiriting defeat in Haifa Israel with a string of saves that kept the scoreline to 2-1.

Scotland keeper Craig Gordon sets up a wall against Portugal. Picture: Alan Harvey/SNS

Scotland keeper Craig Gordon sets up a wall against Portugal. Picture: Alan Harvey/SNS

Gordon, on the other hand, lined up in friendlies against elite sides Belgium and Portugal, losing seven goals in the process. The Scots were beaten 4-0 by the World Cup semi-finalists and went down 3-1 to the Portuguese at Hampden on Sunday night.

Gordon, first pick for the last World Cup qualifying campaign under then manager Gordon Strachan, was asked if he thought that had been harsh on him.

“Yes – that hasn’t been lost on me but that’s the situation and those are the games I’ve been asked to play in,” replied the 35-year-old.

Belgium and Portugal are second and seventh respectively in the Fifa rankings and Gordon added: “We lost seven goals in those matches but when you play against the best teams in the world, there’s every chance that that will happen.

“I thought we restricted Portugal to relatively few chances but when the chances that come their way are as good as those ones were then you know that they’re going to take them.”

The 54-times capped Gordon admits he had not spoken to McLeish about the situation and pledged that he would be there for his fellow 35-year-old McGregor, who has patently moved above him in the pecking order after a superb start to his second spell at Ibrox.

“I want to play in every game but he has his job to do,” said the Celtic keeper. “He [McLeish] is going to pick the team and I’ll play whenever I’m asked to and support whoever else is playing when I’m not.”

Gordon is also supportive of Griffiths returning to the Scotland squad for the decisive Nations League games away in Albania on 17 November and at home to Israel three days later month.

The striker declined to join up with McLeish’s squad last week in order to work on his fitness but Gordon hopes Griffiths can be at his peak to help the country’s cause in those two crucial games.

The Scots will be chasing goals to get the results that will allow them to top Group C1 of the Nations League and achieve promotion to level B for the next tournament. Group winners will also be involved in play-offs with the possibility of a place at Euro 2020 as the reward.

“We want all of our players as fit as possible so that the manager has as many to choose from as possible,” Gordon said.

“If we can get Leigh back fit again for those games then he’ll definitely provide a goal threat, whether he’s playing from the start or coming off the bench because he has goals in him and he’s always capable of scoring.

“We can still win this group. There are two games left and, if we win both of them, then we’re through to the next stage; it’s as simple as that. That’s what we have to focus on. We need to lick our wounds and then bounce back with two victories.”