Davie Provan believes that Gordon Strachan’s desperation for a change in his fortunes as Scotland manager has persuaded him to indulge Scott Brown’s indecision over his international career.
Celtic captain Brown is mulling over whether to make himself available for the crucial World Cup qualifier against Slovenia at Hampden next month.
The former Hibs midfielder had previously reversed his decision at the start of the season to retire from international football.
Provan is opposed to the very notion of any player being in a position to decide on his own terms when or if he represents his country.
However, he also has sympathy with the predicament in which his former international team-mate Strachan finds himself after a poor start to Scotland’s 2018 World Cup qualifying campaign.
“I don’t agree with players picking and choosing what Scotland games they play in,” said Provan. “But I think these circumstances are slightly exceptional, given Scott’s age. He’s 31 but he’s played a lot of football and he’s had a lot of injury problems. He’s not got the body of a 31-year-old. I can understand why he might fancy the Slovenia game,then might not fancy the England game in June.
“The problem is then public perception, that people don’t think anyone should be able to pick and choose when to play for Scotland, and I can see that side of the argument. But if you’re Gordon Strachan, you would have Scott on his current form even if he only wanted to play in the first half against Slovenia. Gordon would probably allow him to do that. Scott has surprised me this season. I know he had injuries last year, but he had a poor season. It’s good to see him back at the top of his game.
“Gordon is under pressure himself and you can understand he needs a result. Every game for him at the moment is must-win, so he is probably taking a selfish approach to this.
“Maybe if Scotland were in a different position he might say ‘sorry, Scott, you can’t pick and choose’. But, at the moment, Gordon needs every ounce of help he can get. Gordon does things his way, too. But it’s must-win against Slovenia. It’s one game at a time at the moment but Gordon’s future is obviously up in the air. He needs a couple of really big results soon.”