Scotland call up ten players in 24 hours in Faroes farce

SCOTLAND manager Craig Levein was forced into frantic efforts yesterday to piece a squad together for tonight's friendly against the Faroe Islands at Pittodrie, as four more players were called up in addition to the six who joined the ranks on Sunday after nine withdrew over the weekend.

• Barry Bannan will make his debut for Scotland tonight, after being named in manager Craig Levein's unfamiliar starting line-up. Picture: SNS

In circumstances which have reduced the fixture to farcical status, five other potential reinforcements also ruled themselves out because of injury. The squad of 21 now includes a host of players who would not be considered anywhere near the manager's first-choice for a competitive international - but Levein claims that the friendly international against a team ranked 133 in the world will have been worthwhile if he unearths just one player who can enhance his plans for the resumption of the Euro 2012 qualifying campaign next year.

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The four newcomers, all uncapped, are Swindon Town full-back Paul Caddis, St Johnstone midfielder Murray Davidson, Wigan Athletic midfielder James McArthur and Motherwell defender Steven Saunders. Davidson joined the squad despite currently suffering from an ankle injury which may yet rule him out of action tonight.

Levein had earlier attempted to draft in Cardiff City midfielder Kevin McNaughton, Celtic full-back Mark Wilson, Middlesbrough midfielder Kevin Thomson, Rangers defender Kirk Broadfoot and Watford midfielder Don Cowie, only to discover all of them were unavailable because of injury.

Having chosen to leave several of his more experienced players out of his squad in the first place, this compounded the problems Levein confronted on Sunday night when Christophe Berra, Chris Burke, Gary Caldwell, Graham Dorrans, Matt Gilks, Alan Hutton, James Morrison, Steven Naismith and Steven Whittaker all pulled out because of injury. The six players called up by Levein in the first instance were Stephen Crainey, Garry Kenneth, Shaun Maloney, Steven Caldwell, Craig Bryson and Barry Robson.

Despite the chaotic preparation for the fixture, Levein robustly defended its value to him as he anticipates one or more of the new faces who will be on view staking a claim to retain their place for the competitive matches next autumn.

Tonight he hands debuts to Danny Wilson of Liverpool and Barry Bannan of Aston Villa in an unfamiliar starting line up that sees Craig Gordon in goal, with Wilson joined in defence by Phil Bardsley, Steven Caldwell and the recalled Crainey. The midfield five are Kris Commons, Darren Fletcher, Charlie Adam, Bannan and Maloney, with Jamie Mackie on his own up front. "A lot of people are deriding the fixture and bleating about call-offs and it is not the squad I originally picked," said Levein. "I understand that to an extent but I'd argue we've had an unusually high number of injuries, a quite extraordinary instance in fact.There were guys getting injured during pre-match warm-ups with their clubs on Saturday and some players picking up pretty significant injuries. But I do feel I can learn something at Pittodrie.

"The injuries are unforeseen. But this game was always about learning or finding one or two players to add to those who have emerged. Every single international player started somewhere. You will find a right few of them started because someone else was injured. And a lot will have come through from a start in a friendly match. So it has huge significance for me.

"I won't listen to anyone who says that this match is not worthwhile. If any of the newer lads can step up to the plate, then they will be in with a chance for the qualifiers next year. In recent games, we have found Phil Bardsley of Sunderland and Jamie Mackie of QPR as Scotland players and I would think most people would agree that has been worthwhile. There are more out there. If someone like Barry Bannan, Danny Wilson or David Goodwillie shows me something here, then that makes it more than worthwhile. If one of them has a fantastic match, it will put them right in the forefront of my thoughts."