There’s no doubt at all that Ross McCormack should have been included in the Scotland squad for their match against Cyprus.
That’s not only down to the goals he’s scored for Leeds United but also a reflection of the game Scotland are contesting next week. If a friendly is not the ideal opportunity to take a good look at an in-form striker then I don’t know what is.
Craig Levein has the right to choose whoever he likes and I’ve been impressed with the work he’s done as Scotland coach. He’s injected some pride into the team and brought passion to the job.
But his reluctance to select McCormack surprises me. It’s plain to see that Ross has earned the chance to be involved.
I know from my time as a player that it’s bitterly disappointing to be overlooked by your country when you think you warrant a chance. It’s even worse when everyone around you is saying the same. Your club comes first, and that’s always been the way, but very few players have no interest at all in international football.
It’s never nice to see friends and team-mates heading off around the world while you’re sitting at home kicking your heels. It used to frustrate me immensely when it happened.
The reality with any footballer is that you aspire to be all you can be and if you think you’re good enough for international level then you want to play in every game you can. You’d be hard pushed to find a player of McCormack’s age and standing who’d choose a rest during the next fortnight over time away with their country.
Back in my day, it always felt as if Scottish players in the English leagues found selection harder to come by than players north of the border. The problem solved itself eventually because there were so many quality footballers down south but there was still a tendency to blame the “Anglos” whenever results went wrong.
At the moment, playing in England should be a massive advantage when it comes to winning a place in the Scotland squad. The demise of Scottish football has been well documented and there simply isn’t the same depth of talent as there was 20 or 30 years ago.
For that reason, any striker who scores regularly in the Championship should be a near automatic pick. It’s a tough, competitive league and it takes a good player to shine there.
If you look at Scotland’s recent record and highlight their most glaring weakness, it seems strange that Levein hasn’t taken the chance to assess a proven and natural goalscorer.
Ross will be annoyed and frustrated by all this. He’ll feel like he’s been unfairly overlooked. But there’s no point in being bitter.
The best thing he can do is to keep scoring and give Levein no choice but to bring him on board.