No Stone Unturned
Updated Friday, 1st October 2010
Craig Levein will do what has to be done to deepen the pool of eligible players for Scotland
|Jamie Mackie has became the latest recruit to the national side ahead of the EURO2012 qualifying matches against Czech Republic and Spain on 8 and 12 October respectively. The QPR striker was born in Dorking, Surrey, but qualifies for Scotland through his grandfather, who is from Kilmarnock. National manager Craig Levein has no plans to stop searching for players eligible to play for Scotland. In his previous squad, Levein introduced Rochdale-born keeper Matt Gilks, who qualifies through his grandmother, and has not given up on Newcastle striker Andy Carroll, who has played for England under-21s but who also qualifies through the grandparents rule.
Levein said: "We have been looking high and low to add to the existing pool that we can pick from. Jamie has been watched on four separate occasions and each report has been excellent. I believe his grandfather was born in Kilmarnock so he fits the criteria and I'm happy to have him on board. I can tell you he was extremely happy to get the call-up. Things have happened very quickly for him and this is just the icing on the cake. To be playing week-in, week-out with a team at the top of the Championship says a lot for the boy himself as does the fact he is top goal-scorer in the league. We are continually looking for players to play for Scotland. I make no apologies, we will trawl every league to try to find more players. We sent emails to all the agents in England asking them to let us know if there were any players we didn't know about with Scottish ancestors or had been born in Scotland. Jamie's agent contacted us. (With regards Andy Carroll), nothing is dead in the water. Until Andy Carroll plays a competitive match for England he is still eligible and it's something we haven't given up on. But I would rather concentrate on the players who are in this squad."
Omitted from the squad this time around is Middlesbrough striker Kris Boyd there were recalls for Celtic striker Shaun Maloney, goalkeeper Craig Gordon, who has recovered from a second arm break in the space of nine months and Wigan defender Gary Caldwell, who is fit again following a hip operation in the summer. Boyd decided he did not want to play for Scotland as long as previous national manager George Burley was in charge after failing to get what he considered to be enough game time in a dark blue jersey. However, Boyd was given a fresh start by Levein when he took over at the end of last year. The former Hearts and Leicester boss is not anticipating another walk-out by the former Rangers striker.
Levein said: "When I phone Kris Boyd to tell him he is not going to be in the squad, he is not going to be happy but he accepted it. I don't expect anything other than Kris Boyd to get his head down, work away at his club, start scoring goals and he will be picked the next time I pick a squad. My job is to pick who I believe are the best players for the job and I believe he was out of form, and he missed a few Middlesbrough matches. Jamie Mackie is the top scorer in the Championship. Chris Iwelumo is scoring goals, Kenny Miller is scoring goals, Steven Fletcher is scoring goals and I feel that four strikers is enough. I have to make difficult decisions and this was a difficult decision but I do believe that in that position, form is very important. Kris is a fantastic player, I have a lot of time for him and as far as I'm concerned the next games that come around he will be in the pool to be selected."
Levein is keen to end the saga of Birmingham midfielder Barry Ferguson, who told him last week that, contrary to speculation, he would not consider returning to international football. The Scotland boss said: "I made a statement last week and I will reiterate that. Barry made a couple of statements on the radio that gave the impression he might reconsider playing for Scotland. Myself and Mike Oliver (scout) followed that up and it proved not to be the case so a line has been drawn under that as far as I'm concerned, that's it over and I would much rather talk about the players we have in the squad. Paul Hartley is injured which is a blow, Lee McCulloch misses the first match which is a blow but a line has been drawn under the Ferguson situation."
Ger Harley (ger@scottishfitba net)
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