Scotland’s failure to qualify for Euro 2016 has increased scrutiny of Gordon Strachan’s squad selection. A 5-1 win in Malta will be forgotten quickly if his selected players can’t follow up that bright start.
The Scotland boss is loyal to a handful of players, whilst ignoring fan and media calls to include high profile attacking talents such as Jordan Rhodes or Ross McCormick.
But, it is not only up front where Strachan’s selections have been scrutinised.
Scotland’s Left Back deputy
Whilst Andy Robertson deserves to be Scotland’s first choice left back, there is less agreement over who should deputise the Hull City man.
Strachan has trialled an astonishing 11 different players at left back.
Scotland Left Back Record under Strachan
|Player||Call Ups as LB||As replacement||Withdrawals||Caps at LB||W||D||L||Team goals||Team concede|
New guard, Old Firm
A changing of the guard is taking place as 32 year old Steven Whittaker is not a long term option, Charlie Mulgrew plays regularly in midfield and Craig Forsyth has a long term injury. For qualifiers against Lithuania and Slovakia, Strachan has placed faith in Old Firm duo Kieran Tierney and Lee Wallace.
Social media response
The former deserves his opportunity for performing a key role in Brendan Rodgers rejuvenated Celtic team, but Tartan Army supporters are split on the inclusion of Lee Wallace.
Shinnie vs Wallace
Fans clamour for the Aberdeen man to be included but he is well down the pecking order featuring only once in Strachan’s 30 matches in charge as an unused squad player.
Shinnie has started almost every Aberdeen game this season in centre midfield – an issue I tackled in a previous post – and if Strachan’s intentions are to include a 3rd left back in his squad then it is understandable that he prefers Lee Wallace. Speaking to the media about his Scotland squad Strachan said, “His attitude helped ensure he got back in the squad, as well as his partnership with Barrie McKay.”
Wallace has been called up 10 times by Strachan, withdrawing from the squad 4 times and appearing only twice towards the end of games – a cameo actor according to his red-headed director – and some fans believe Wallace has been selected to appease the blue half of Glasgow.
On Tuesday (27th September) Derek McInnes discussed Strachan’s selection policy,
“Gordon can only pick so many. He is very loyal and stands by a lot of his players and rightly so,” said the Aberdeen manager. “Shinnie is one I believe will, whether that is the next one or in a couple of squads times. I believe he will be a Scotland player.”
Loyal to the end?
It’s highly unlikely that all 3 left backs will be used during the 2 matches. Strachan will be asked questions if the Rangers man does not make an appearance again on the park.
Scotland doesn’t need 3 left backs in the squad, and even if Shinnie doesn’t become a long term asset to his nation he warrants investigation more than a player that Strachan has looked at for over 3 years and never rated enough to trust with sufficient game time.
Shinnie is not an isolated incident. Rhodes and McCormick are also wondering when their chance will come.
Loyalty to some whilst ignoring others, could lead to Strachan’s downfall.