Leigh Griffiths back in as Steve Clarke names Scotland squad for Euro 2020 play-off clash with Serbia
Leigh Griffiths returns to the Scotland squad for the upcoming international triple-header, including the crunch Euro 2020 play-off clash with Serbia.
The Celtic striker had been absent from the group last time around as he stepped up his comeback from injury and fitness issues. He’s since made four appearances, including a stunning goal in Celtic’s 3-3 draw with Aberdeen a week past Sunday. He’s joined by fellow Celtic stars Callum McGregor, Ryan Christie and Greg Taylor, though James Forrest is still unavailable due to injury.
Griffiths joins Hearts goalkeeper Craig Gordon and Norwich City centre-back Grant Hanley as former national team regulars returning to the squad.
The Tynecastle stopper has been rewarded for his fine form since rejoining his boyhood heroes this summer. He’s made top class saves in the victories over Dundee and Alloa Athletic in the Scottish Championship, not to mention a stunning stop from Kevin Nisbet in Saturday’s all-Edinburgh Scottish Cup semi-final.
There are also places for Rangers stars Jon McLaughlin and Ryan Jack, but all three Hibs players involved in the last squad – Ryan Porteous, Paul Hanlon and Paul McGinn – have all dropped out.
Meanwhile, the six players who were forced out of action on the eve of the Israel clash last month are all available once again.
Injury robbed manager Steve Clarke of the services of Liam Palmer, Scott McKenna and Oliver Burke. The Scotland boss was also dealt the triple blow of losing Stuart Armstrong to a positive Covid-19 test, which meant Kieran Tierney and Ryan Christie were forced into self-isolation as a result of being in close contact with their former Celtic team-mate.
Scotland were able to get over such disruption with three positive results. After defeating Israel on penalties to book their meeting with Serbia on Thursday, October 11 for a place in next summer’s European Championships tournament they were then able to defeat Slovakia and the Czech Republic in the Uefa Nations League.
They’ll be back in Nations League duty again after the Serbia clash. Three days later they travel to Slovakia before ending the latest Nations League campaign with a meeting away to Israel on Wednesday, October 18.
Scotland are currently top of Group B2 with a four-point lead over the Czech Republic. Clarke’s men just need one victory from either of their two final matches or for the Czechs to drop points in either of their two final games to finish top and earn promotion to Group A. The Czechs have a pair of home clashes against Israel and Slovakia.
The squad in full:
Goalkeepers: Craig Gordon (Hearts), David Marshall (Derby County), Jon McLaughlin (Rangers)
Defenders: Andy Considine (Aberdeen), Liam Cooper (Leeds United), Declan Gallagher (Motherwell), Grant Hanley (Norwich City), Scott McKenna (Aberdeen), Stephen O’Donnell (Motherwell), Liam Palmer (Sheffield Wednesday), Greg Taylor (Celtic), Kieran Tierney (Arsenal)
Midfielders: Stuart Armstrong (Southampton), Ryan Christie (Celtic), Ryan Jack (Rangers), John McGinn (Aston Villa), Callum McGregor (Celtic), Kenny McLean (Norwich City), Scott McTominay (Manchester United),
Forwards: Oliver Burke (Sheffield United), Lyndon Dykes (Queens Park Rangers), Ryan Fraser (Newcastle United), Leigh Griffiths (Celtic), Oli McBurnie (Sheffield United), Callum Paterson (Sheffield Wednesday), Lawrence Shankland (Dundee United)
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