Scott Brown is set to continue his Scotland career after Gordon Strachan revealed he is preparing to include the midfielder in his squad for games against Canada and Slovenia next month.
While it is unlikely the player will feature in the first match, a friendly, Strachan has received no indication from the 51-times capped Brown to suggest he won’t be available for the vital World Cup qualifier against Slovenia four days later on Sunday 26 March.
“I spoke to lots of players and Scott is one of them,” the Scotland manager said yesterday. “And not one of them has said they don’t want to be involved in the next game (v Slovenia).
“I’m sure over the course of a conversation that if anyone felt like that then they would have told me, just as Alan Hutton did a few months ago. Everyone is up for it and ready to go.”
Brown has been deliberating over his Scotland future once more after returning from international retirement for November’s 3-0 defeat by England at Wembley. With the result not turning out as desired, and Scotland’s next competitive clash a number of months away, it was expected Brown would resume his retirement, which he originally announced in August.
Fearing the potential impact on his club form, the Celtic midfielder recently described the dilemma over whether to prolong his international career as “the biggest decision” he had faced in football. Brown’s greatest concern is over the return fixture against England at Hampden on 10 June, ten days before Celtic are due back for pre-season training. He could yet strike a deal with Strachan to sit that fixture out but as it stands the manager is confident he will be available next month.
“I spoke to him in the last ten days,” said Strachan. “We’re not tying him down to a contract. It’s always up to the players if they feel good about themselves at that time.
“We decide if we pick them as well, so it works both ways with lots of players,” he added. “I see no reason why Scott won’t be in the next squad.”
Strachan admitted there were some squad players who he might exclude due to the slim chance they will see active involvement – but Brown isn’t one of those.
“No one has come to me and said I won’t be in the next squad,” the manager confirmed. “There are ones who aren’t getting games that are telling me that they will try and get a game here and there to be ready.
“Also with some of the older players I say to them I won’t have them in the squad unless I think they are going to be stripped.
“If you come to squads and have not been stripped then it’s hard, especially when you have been away from kids and family for ten days. In my time it was three days and not a problem. Ten days is harder so that’s why I give people an idea and they say, ‘well, just knock it on the head and if you need me in the end give me a shout’. There are a few in that group and it’s only fair.”
Strachan also confirmed that Bournemouth winger Ryan Fraser is on his radar. The former Aberdeen player, who agreed a new deal until 2020 yesterday, has been in good form for his club, scoring three times in his last eight appearances.
But Strachan stressed that Fraser’s chances, as well as those of West Bromwich Albion wide player Matt Phillips, are hampered by Scotland’s options in their position.
“Of course he [Fraser] is in my thoughts, but we’re fortunate in that we have good players in that area, and that can be unfortunate for some players,” said Strachan.