Alex McLeish is back as Scotland manager, but he isn’t quite ready to pick his first team. With another Old Firm clash coming up this Sunday – as well as Friday night’s Edinburgh derby between Hibernian and Heart of Midlothian – he postponed announcing his squad selection until next week, giving him more time to assess players.
One player that definitely will be involved is Manchester United youngster Scott McTominay. “He will be in the squad,” McLeish told Sky Sports. “I don’t think that’s the world’s best kept secret at this particular moment.”
The 21-year-old will win his first cap for Scotland should he take to the field in friendly action against Costa Rica or Hungary later in March, and he could be joined by a number of other intriguing debutants. Here, Football Whispers takes a look at ten uncapped players McLeish should consider calling up.
Brophy may not be the most exciting name on this list of uncapped candidates, but he would help out in a problem position for Scotland. With Steven Fletcher and Steven Naismith both on the wrong side of 30 and Jason Cummings struggling to nail down regular games at Rangers, the national team is in need of fresh striking options.
The 21-year-old isn’t a natural goalscorer – at club level his Kilmarnock team-mate Kris Boyd is the more consistent finisher. However, with five goals in his last ten Scottish Premiership appearances, he is developing in this respect. He also brings energy and industry to the frontline, assets that could make him an effective foil for a strike partner should McLeish go with two up top.
Scotland have no shortage of crafty, technical central midfielders, meaning Docherty will have to work to force his way into the national team starting line-up. He will be given a good acid test of his prospects this weekend, when he could come up against positional rival Callum McGregor as Rangers take on Celtic.
Docherty has bossed midfield since moving to Ibrox, gradually supplanting Jason Holt to form a central two with Sean Goss. His fine passing is matched by real strength, combativeness and a drive to break forward, meaning he’d perhaps be at his best in a midfield trident.
Wolverhampton Wanderers have taken the English Championship by storm this season, and Douglas has been an important figure in their success. Within a 3-4-2-1 system, he has operated at left wing-back, showcasing positive forward runs and crossing ability to pick up an exceptional 11 assists from 28 league outings.
Scotland have two talented young left-siders in Kieran Tierney and Andrew Robertson, but the former may be utilised in central defence. If that is the case, Douglas could provide Robertson with real competition for his starting spot on the flank.
Hendry has experienced a phenomenal rise to prominence over the last six months. After leaving English third tier side Wigan Athletic for Dundee last July, he quickly established himself as one of the most talented young central defenders in Scotland. Evidently impressed by the 22-year-old’s form, Celtic then snapped him up in January for a fee of just over £1million.
“I think his potential is huge,” Brendan Rodgers said of his new signing. “When you come to Celtic you have to deal with expectation and pressure. If he can deal with all those things then you’ve got a Scottish centre-half who has all the attributes of a top-class footballer.”
Barnsley are hovering just above the English Championship relegation zone at present, and they will need Lindsay to be at his best if they are to avoid the dreaded drop. The 22-year-old centre-back has started 31 of his side’s 35 league fixtures, earning interest from Brighton & Hove Albion in the process.
Comfortable bringing the ball out from the back, he is an accurate player of long-range passes with either foot. However, he’s also tall and strong in the air, meaning he could fit into a more conventional style of defending.
McBurnie will have made an impression on Premier League viewers with his low-socked look while making substitute appearances for Swansea City, but now he is finally earning plaudits for his finishing. On loan at Barnsley, where he has played alongside the aforementioned Lindsay, he has found the net five times in six league games.
While born in Leeds, he has represented Scotland at under-21 and under-19 level. Considering the shortage of true, young striking options, McLeish would be wise to get him called up to the senior side as soon as possible.
Scott Brown has retired from international football for a second time, so Scotland are in need of a new deep-lying operator to anchor their midfield. Given he turned 34 in February, Darren Fletcher isn’t a viable long-term option, but Fulham’s McDonald would be an astute pick.
In one of the finest possession sides in the English second tier, the 29-year-old is one of the most consistent passers. He plays at the base of a central midfield three and uses his positional nous to provide sound defensive cover. While he’s no hot prospect, he is a natural fit for an important vacancy in the Scotland line-up.
Prior to this season, Hearts lacked stability at the back. The goalkeeper position was a major part of the problem, but McLaughlin has provided the solution this term. It could be argued that he is the finest shot-stopper in the Scottish Premiership right now, and his reflexes have helped his side to countless clean sheets.
Craig Gordon remains the undisputed No.1 for Scotland, but McLaughlin would be a more than able deputy to the Celtic man. At 30 years of age he has never played for his country at any level, but that should soon change.
Like Douglas, McDonald and McLaughlin, Murphy is one of several late bloomers yet to be capped at senior level by Scotland. A regular source of goals for Motherwell in his formative years, he then moved from English League One to Premier League via spells at Sheffield United and Brighton, who he left for Rangers in January.
The 28-year-old only moved to Ibrox on loan, but it’s a certainty that he will join the club permanently in the summer. His displays on the left wing evidence the sort of flair, dribbling skill and intelligence that Scotland could do with in their forward line.
At just 21 years of age, Souttar is fast developing into one of the best central defenders in Scotland right now. He has played at the top level for half a decade with Dundee United and Hearts, and his recent form reportedly attracted interest from Derby County in January.
Like Hendry and Lindsay, he is an astute ball-player. He enjoys the occasional forward foray and is capable of breaking lines with penetrative passes into midfield. Able to play in a back three or four, his all-round ability makes him a must-cap for Scotland in their upcoming friendlies.