On Wednesday night Scotland travel to Luxembourg to take part in a friendly that, frankly, few of their fans are enticed by. The first game of the post Craig Levein era seems somewhat of a damp squib with Billy Stark in caretaker charge and with little chance of landing the job on a permanent basis.
Stark’s initial squad selection seemed to be merely the same as Levein would have picked, but subsequent withdrawals have allowed him the space to call up some interesting names, reward it seems for fine starts in the SPL season. Andrew Shinnie of Inverness Caledonian Thistle , Murray Davidson of St. Johnstone and Leigh Griffths of Hibernian stand to win their first cap if selected and all have been stand out players in their club’s respective impressive starts to the season.
From a fan’s point of view, it would be nice to see these players given their chance to impress. In truth we would learn little that we don’t already know about the likes of Kenny Miller and Andy Webster, whereas the likes of Shinnie, Griffiths or Liam Kelly of Kilmarnock could at least give a glimpse of what Scotland’s future might hold.
It would also make sense to give the younger generation a run as, no matter the scoreline there will be few holding Stark up as their ideal candidate for the job. Indeed, it might be considered a no win situation for the caretaker. Anything less than a victory over a side ranked 144th in the FIFA World Rankings will be seen as abject failure, and unless that victory were to be startling and by four or five goals, it is unlikely to be usable as ammunition for those who would like to see him given a chance.
I suspect that Scotland will win the match, probably by two or three goals, even despite the fact that Kenny Miller has been picked in the starting line up. I also anticipate a distinct sense of “well wasn’t that a waste of time” in the aftermath.
Billy Stark believes that taking a friendly against a side like Luxembourg gives those who wouldn’t normally get an opportunity the chance to show what they can do. (The Scotsman)
“I’ve been asked if this game is worthwhile. I think the manager at the time felt it was because it gives you a chance to look at different options. The qualifiers have everything riding on them and they are not a time to experiment in any shape or from.
“This would have been a chance for him to use some of the players who have been about the squad, like Jordan Rhodes or Grant Hanley. And now, with the likes of Andrew Shinnie, Murray Davidson, Liam Kelly and Leigh Griffiths all coming in, it’s also a great opportunity for them to show what they can do in a full international game.”
Scotland captain, Darren Fletcher, likewise believes the game gives an opportunity for the young players to impress whomever takes the job on a permanent basis. (The Telegraph)
“You can see the excitement and the exuberance in training in the last few days. They’re young lads at the beginning of their careers and it’s a fantastic opportunity for them to stake their claim to a place and get into the national team because of injury call offs.
“If you can put in a performance you put yourself in the shop window and right into the plans of whoever takes over. I’m sure whoever is in line to take over will be watching this game with a keen interest.”
(Photo credit: mrgu82 via Flickr)