THREE CELTIC stars, the two player of the year winners James Forrest and Callum McGregor plus goalkeeper Scott Bain were named earlier this week in the Scotland squad for the vital Euro qualifiers against Cyprus (at Hampden, must win) and Belgium away (a hide behind the sofa night for the Tartan Army but a great chance for Scott Bain to face the very best on what will be an extremely busy 90 minutes for Scotland’s new number one).
Steve Clarke had announced his squad, which included plenty of players from Kilmarnock but rather amusingly none from our noisy neighbours in Govan. Maybe if international matches lasted 80 minutes, Clarke would have picked some of their players.
West Brom forward Oli Burke, whose loan spell at Celtic has now ended, is also in the squad, based on his performances for the Hoops.
The one player that the former Killie manager has signed out for special praise as he looks forward to his new job is The Celtic Star man James Forrest.
Jamesy has had an outstanding season, although he was rather quiet in the Scottish Cup Final, where Odsonne Edouard stepped up to have his finest 90 minutes in a Celtic jersey.
The 27-year-old star man won four personal awards – starting of course with The Celtic Star’s Player of the Year, voted for my thousands of Celtic Supporters, plus the Ladbrokes, PFA Scotland and Scottish Football Writers’ Association player of the year awards.
He won another Treble and during the season he scored 17 goals for Celtic, including 4 in one game at St Johnstone, plus 20 assists or Celtic and he scored 5 for Scotland, including a hat-trick against Israel.
Clarke knows that he’ll need more of the same from James Forrest if he’s going to get Scotland to the Euros.
“You want to work with the best quality of player that you can. I think James Forrest in particular is an exciting one because since Brendan Rodgers went to Celtic, he went in there and changed James’ game a little bit,” the new Scotland manager said to the media, as reported by Evening Times.
“He started getting him coming in off the line and linking up and now you see James arriving in the box, eleven (Premiership) goals I think this season and plenty of assists as well and hopefully he can continue that.”
Ryan Christie and Kieran Tierney are both unavailable through injury for these two games but will be vital players for Clarke going forward. Christie is recovering from the horrendous facial injuries he received in the Scottish Cup semi-final against Aberdeen whale Tierney yesterday appeared in a photograph showing him beginning the recovery process from his double hernia operation.
And a return to football and goalscoring from Leigh Griffiths is also going to be of great value to the new Scotland manager. Remember those two goals against England?