The Scotland team to play Malta in Valletta on September 4 has been announced, with no major changes in Gordon Strachan’s 27-man squad.
Hull forward Shaun Maloney has been omitted from the Scotland squad for their opening World Cup qualifier, while Ross McCormack is also absent from the squad.
Steven Fletcher, Leigh Griffiths, Steven Naismith and Chris Martin are the selected strikers.
Winger Barrie McKay is included but there is no place for his Rangers team-mate Lee Wallace. Fulham midfielder Kevin McDonald and Hearts goalkeeper Jack Hamilton are the two uncapped players in the squad for the away game, while Hibernian midfielder John McGinn is included after his recent call-up to the squad for the friendly matches earlier this year.
Maloney, one of the most impressive performers in Scotland’s Euro 2016 qualifying campaign, came off the bench to score in Hull’s Premier League win at Swansea on Saturday but manager Gordon Strachan does not feel he is properly match-fit.
“I spoke to Shaun after the France game and said we really need to get more games in this squad,” Strachan said.
“There are a couple of guys who have not played many games. Shaun has not had many games over the last period, and I also said to him that the players in your area at the moment there are people playing regular and playing very well. So he understands that.
“But don’t take that as finished, that’s for sure. He has a great fitness level, but I think some people need games.”
As well as McKay, Strachan has picked three other players who have one cap after recently being promoted from the Scotland under-age teams - Kieran Tierney, Callum Paterson and McGinn.
“Now is the time,” he said. “They have proved to us on and off the pitch that we can rely on them, trust them, and we hope over the next year or so they will progress at their clubs, and that will help us out.”
You have to have a variation of players when you’re picking your squad so you can change the game, change the way you want to play at timesGordon Strachan
Strachan watched £12 million striker McCormack as Villa drew 0-0 with Derby on Saturday but it was his Rams counterpart Chris Martin who made the squad.
When asked whether McCormack just missed out, Strachan said: “There could be about 10-12 players, but you have to have a variation of players when you’re picking your squad so you can change the game, change the way you want to play at times.
“With the strikers, you have to have more rounded. I wish we could have everything but guys have their different strengths.
“I watched Ross on Saturday, I saw two games with 11 Scotsmen. It was good.
“But I have got to think what is best for the whole group.”
Strachan has made no announcement on a new captain to replace Scott Brown, who retired from international football last week.
When asked whether it would revert to Darren Fletcher, who was skipper before illness interrupted his career, Strachan said: “We have let Darren and the rest of the lads get on with it.
“I have only spoken to guys to ask about their playing time and their fitness,” he said. “I have not really spoken to Darren. So, when that comes round, I will speak to Darren about it.”
Scotland squad to play Malta
Goalkeepers: Craig Gordon, Jack Hamilton, David Marshall.
Defenders: Christophe Berra, Gordon Greer, Grant Hanley, Alan Hutton, Russell Martin, Callum Paterson, Andrew Robertson, Kieran Tierney.
Midfielders: Ikechi Anya, Barry Bannan, Oliver Burke, Darren Fletcher, James Forrest, James McArthur, Kevin McDonald, John McGinn, Barrie McKay, James Morrison, Matt Ritchie, Robert Snodgrass.
Strikers: Steven Fletcher, Leigh Griffiths, Chris Martin, Steven Naismith.