MX23RW : Saturday, January 19 06:58:41

Alex McLeish insists there is nothing sinister in Tom Cairney’s absence from Scotland squad

The Fulham midfielder only returned from an ankle injury over the weekend.

Scotland manager Alex McLeish insists there is “nothing sinister” in Tom Cairney’s absence from his latest squad.

Reports recently claimed England manager Gareth Southgate was keen to call up the Nottingham-born midfielder, who is yet to make his competitive debut for his father’s native country.

The Fulham midfielder returned from an ankle injury, which saw him withdraw from the previous international double header, as a 64th-minute substitute in his team’s 3-0 defeat by Everton on Saturday.

But the 27-year-old was not named in McLeish’s 23-man squad for the Nations League clash with Israel on October 11 and a home friendly against Portugal three days later.

McLeish said: “We contacted Fulham last week and at that moment they said Tom wasn’t going to be available. So we went along Fulham’s lines and for that reason we didn’t include Tom.

“But he only played for 20 minutes and he’s obviously missed a few weeks. It’s nothing sinister, it was more the dialogue we had with Fulham.

“Whenever we have had Tom Cairney in the squad, he has integrated in the group brilliantly and we would expect him to prolong his Scottish career.”

Martin Boyle looks set to play for Australia
Martin Boyle looks set to play for Australia (Jeff Holmes/PA)

There was no place for Hibernian winger Martin Boyle, who is on the verge of an Australia call-up after their head coach, Graham Arnold, confirmed they were well down the line with paperwork to switch nationalities.

McLeish said: “Martin’s been in great form over the last year or so. I just felt we are pretty rich in that position. We have a lot of players and I don’t want to mess people about, just bringing them along as a cheerleader, bringing them along because they have been in great form of recent times.

“What will be, will be. If it’s meant for Martin to play for Scotland, it could happen. You have just got to watch this space and he has got to keep playing to that level. Australia may snatch him but at the moment I have got some really good players in that position.

“I was going to ask to take him (to Peru and Mexico) but he was ruled out through injury.”

Aberdeen’s Scott McKenna, left, is back in the squad
Aberdeen’s Scott McKenna, left, is back in the squad (Jeff Holmes/PA)

Aberdeen defender Scott McKenna has won a recall after missing last month’s defeat by Belgium and win over Albania with a hamstring injury. Robert Snodgrass and Steven Naismith retain their places after being drafted in late for the double header.

West Brom winger Matt Phillips and Cardiff’s Callum Paterson miss out while Sunderland’s Jon McLaughlin has replaced Jordan Archer as the third-choice goalkeeper.


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