Scotland manager Gordon Strachan revealed he could not ignore Tom Cairney, Ryan Fraser and Stuart Armstrong after naming his squad for the must-win World Cup qualifier against Slovenia on 26 March.
Fulham’s Cairney and Bournemouth winger Fraser have been called up for the first time for the Hampden clash which takes place four days after a warm-up friendly against Canada at Easter Road.
Strachan has described Fulham’s Cairney as arguably the best midfielder in the English Championship. He believes former Aberdeen player Fraser has developed into a top talent and Armstrong is in the form of his life.
There were also recalls for striker Jordan Rhodes and winger Matt Phillips, who has impressed at West Brom of late, as the Scots attempt to re-ignite their slim qualification hopes.
Strachan said: “Tom Cairney is probably the best midfield player in that division at the moment. He has been very influential for Fulham in a new central role.
“He has gone in there and scored goals. He’s certainly been a bonus to watch but the bonus will only come into effect if he plays well and scores goals for us.
“Ryan is doing very well at Bournemouth. He is keeping out some good players, some high-value players at Bournemouth with his ability and work rate and he played very well at the weekend.
“Ryan went down there and went on loan to Ipswich and threw himself into that. He came back a more confident player.
“It took him a while to get in this season but when he did he has played well. He was terrific on Saturday
“Stuart was the same on Sunday. He is scoring goals and relishing a central role having been wide before.”
Scotland have just four points from their opening four fixtures in Group F which is topped by England on 10 with next opponents Slovenia in second place two points behind.
Strachan admitted: “We must win that game. There’s no getting away from that fact. It’s a must win.
“But we’re looking forward to that challenge and I think the fans will be looking forward to it as well. That challenge of going to a game you must win.
“The guys will be prepared, I’m sure the fans will be prepared, we’re looking to put in a right good performance.”