Rangers may be reported to be stalling over handing their veteran striker a new contract. But Terry Butcher believes Kenny Miller has done enough this season to ensure faith should be invested in him – by Scotland.
Butcher has watched the lively 37-year-old Miller lead the line for his club to great effect during the current campaign. The striker has scored eight goals in 30 appearances and booked a Scottish Cup fifth round tie with Morton this weekend with a match winning double against Motherwell in the last round.
But, while Rangers seem to be swithering over offering the veteran a new deal, Butcher is confident Miller could still do a job for Scotland later this year against England when the two countries meet in a World Cup qualifier at Hampden Park in June.
Miller retired from international football after playing against England in a friendly four years ago. But Butcher claims Miller is performing well enough to have earned the right to add to his 69 caps to date should he take Scott Brown’s recent lead and reverse his retirement decision. There is another qualifier to come before then against Slovenia next month and Butcher believes Scotland manager Gordon Strachan can ill-afford to ignore the in-form Miller.
“Kenny Miller is the one who has kept Rangers going,” said the former Ibrox skipper. “Sometimes you think he has run his course and then he pops up with a great goal. He is one of those people who leads by example and puts everything into it.
“There are other players who might think they deserve to be picked in front of Kenny Miller. But there seem to be more older players having Indian summers and doing well at the end of their careers.
“Gordon [Strachan] might be looking more long-term than short, but with the World Cup qualification you need to get short-term results. I don’t see any reason why, on a short-term basis, Kenny couldn’t make an appearance.
“That might well be the boost the country needs,” added Butcher, who now works as a pundit for BT Sport.
“He wouldn’t just be there to make up the numbers. For me he has been Rangers’ best striker this season without a shadow of doubt. He is getting longer in the tooth but there is no substitute for experience. He has been the one who has continually led and pushed Rangers more than anyone else.”
Butcher, who worked with the striker when assisting then Scotland manager George Burley, remembered Miller as a powerful influence in the dressing room.
“He is quite quiet but what he says matters,” he said. “I’ve known him say one or two things within the Scotland squad. His opinion was very strong but also correct. He wasn’t the most experienced player in the squad at that time but he felt it needed to be said and he said it.
“You have to respect him for that. He has seen so much at Rangers and he knows exactly what needs to be done.”
“I just hope he is not picked for the 10th of June,” he added, with reference to the clash later this year with England, for whom Butcher earned 77 caps. “I hope he is on his holidays by then! If I was Gareth [Southgate] and Kenny was to play a part against England at Hampden you’d be thinking it would be Sod’s Law for him to pop up with a goal. That would be my fear. I really hope he isn’t there.”