• International football

Strachan shuffles pack with first Scotland squad

ESPN staff
March 7, 2013
Gordon Strachan has taken a look at some different options © PA Photos

Brighton and Hove Albion midfielder Liam Bridcutt, Dundee United winger Gary Mackay-Steven and Hull City winger George Boyd have won their first full call-ups for Scotland.

Gordon Strachan, who succeeded Craig Levein as head coach in January, will take charge of his first competitive game when Scotland entertain Wales in a World Cup qualifier in two weeks' time before facing a difficult trip to Serbia four days later. Scotland are bottom of their group with no hope of reaching Brazil 2014.

Bridcutt, who began his career at Chelsea, was born in Reading but qualifies for Scotland through his grandfather from Edinburgh. His inclusion is subject to Scottish Football Association paperwork being completed to ratify his eligibility.

Strachan said: "Liam is a guy I've been watching. I've seen a lot of his games. At the time I didn't realise he could possibly play for Scotland.

"Mark McGhee, who lives in the Brighton area, has seen a lot of Liam and he did his homework into the type of guy Liam was and did he want to play for Scotland. We've put that all together and we've come to the conclusion that he's good enough."

Boyd, who is currently on loan at Hull from Peterborough, was also born in England in Chatham and in 2005 represented England C before playing for Scotland B in 2009.

Strachan said: "He is an elegant player, a good passer and he scores a fair amount of goals for an attacking midfield player."

Mackay-Steven has returned to top form for United in recent weeks after an injury-hit first half of the season. Strachan added: "I've seen him a couple of times recently and he makes an impression on the game, that's for sure."

Norwich winger Robert Snodgrass is back in the squad and spoken of his surprise. Snodgrass believes the former Celtic and Middlesbrough boss will bring a fresh dimension to the Tartan Army.

"He said he watched me in the Liverpool game when we got beat 5-0 which probably wasn't the best, but he was quite happy with my performance which was quite hard to believe because I did not do much in the game,'' said Snodgrass. "But he judges people off a 5-0 win or a 5-0 defeat, which tests your character and he was quite happy with that.

"He has been bringing different ideas to what we had under previous managers, and is giving a lot of different people a call-up, which is interesting. He has different plans, he wants us to press and play football which we have not done over the years.

"He will try to stress to you the way he wants you to play in that position, to fit into his game plan. We have had players come in and out into the set-up, he is now trying to get a balanced squad to play in the positions he wants and I am just happy to be part of that, to try to get some more minutes under my belt to help Scotland.''

Southampton left-back Danny Fox is also recalled while Blackpool winger Matt Phillips and QPR forward Jamie Mackie drop out of the squad as does Celtic captain Scott Brown, whose season appears to be over because of an abductor injury.

Chris Burke retains his place after Strachan handed him his first international cap in more than six years in the 1-0 friendly win over Estonia last month.

Gary Caldwell will captain the side in the absence of Darren Fletcher.

Scotland squad: Gilks (Blackpool), Marshall (Cardiff), McGregor (Besiktas); Berra (Wolves), Caldwell (Wigan), Fox (Southampton), Hanley (Blackburn), Hutton (Real Mallorca), Martin (Norwich), Mulgrew (Celtic), Webster (Hearts); Adam (Stoke), Bridcutt (Brighton), Burke (Birmingham), Commons (Celtic), Dorrans (West Brom), Forrest (Celtic), Mackay-Steven (Dundee United), McArthur (Wigan), Morrison (West Brom), Snodgrass (Norwich); Boyd (Hull), Fletcher (Sunderland), McCormack (Leeds), Maloney (Wigan), Miller (Vancouver Whitecaps), Naismith (Everton), Rhodes (Blackburn).

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