Scotland manager Gordon Strachan has released his roster for the upcoming friendlies against the United States and Norway. There are a few items of interest as well as one telling remark by the manager regarding his approach to a year without competitive matches for Scotland. First, the roster-
Scott Fox (Partick Thistle)
Matt Gilks (Blackpool)
David Marshall (Cardiff City)
With first choice Allan McGregor (Hull City) unavailable through injury Strachan has moved Marshall up to first choice and brought in the uncapped Fox as third choice. I won’t say that bringing Fox into the team has been “controversial,” but it is something of a “head scratcher.” He’s having a decent season and Partick have done alright in their return to the Scottish top flight, but pretty much every other Premiership club with a Scottish goalkeeper has been asking- quite rightly- “Why not our guy?” The general consensus is that it should have been (second place) Aberdeen’s Jamie Langfield who should have gotten the nod. He’s never been capped, but he has played over 300 senior matches and at 33 is certainly not over the hill by goal keeping standards.
Christophe Berra (Ipswich Town)
Gordon Greer (Brighton and Hove Albion)
Grant Hanley (Blackburn Rovers)
Alan Hutton (Aston Villa)
Russell Martin (Norwich City)
Charlie Mulgrew (Celtic)
Lee Wallace (Rangers)
Steven Whittaker (Norwich City)
Here’s hoping that 32 year old Gordon Greer finally makes it onto the pitch in one of these matches. He’s been called up to the national side twice but missed out on actually playing both times. Otherwise, things are starting to solidify in the back and I’m hopeful that there’s a core here that can carry Scotland to qualification in Euro 2016.
Charlie Adam (Stoke City)
Ikechi Anya (Watford)
Barry Bannan (Crystal Palace)
Scott Brown (Celtic)
Craig Bryson (Derby County)
Chris Burke (Birmingham City)
James Forrest (Celtic)
James Morrison (West Bromwich Albion)
James McArthur (Wigan Athletic)
Robert Snodgrass (Norwich City)
Much like the defense, the midfield has come together under Strachan (Anya, Morrison, and Snodgrass have all been excellent since he took over and that leads me to think that, perhaps, it’s “make or break” time for Charlie Adam as an international player. He certainly has the ability, but he’s never seemed to have the consistency for club or country. Brilliant one match, invisible in the next. Strachan seems to favor “always pretty good” over “occasionally great” in his selection and unless Adam can find his form on a regular basis and graft with the team, I think he might be done.
Steven Fletcher (Sunderland)
Steven Naismith (Everton)
Matt Phillips (Queens Park Rangers)
Jordan Rhodes (Blackburn Rovers)
There’s still plenty of time before these matches, but if the newly fit Steven Fletcher and Jordan Rhodes remain in the side along with the recently re-born Steven Naismith, Strachan might just have something here. Not a goal scoring machine by any means, but one capable of getting a goal or two in each match and leaving it up to Scotland’s defenders to do the rest. I’ve no opinion on Matt Phillips- not sure what Strachan sees in him.
Finally, if you’re wondering what Strachan’s approach to the next year is going to be, it’s this:
“You still want to win. Do we just go ‘Okay, we’ll experiment and try all this or that’, putting in six or seven new players? I don’t think that’s right. You try to keep a nucleus and then try to fit in one or two players. Also, these results count towards the FIFA rankings.”
Works for me.
Also, no Darren Fletcher…yet.