Steve Clarke has dropped a heavy hint that Ryan Fraser will not feature for Scotland any time soon. Fraser irked the Scotland coaching staff by withdrawing from the squad for crucial matches against Moldova and Denmark last month citing a calf problem, but was subsequently pictured on the training ground of his club, Newcastle United.
Clarke has revealed that he has not spoken with Fraser and has no apparent desire to do so. “He wasn’t involved through his own choice in the November games,” the manager said. “To be honest I don’t think we missed him. I thought the team was good in both games so Ryan could have his work cut out to be back in the squad. That’s just the nature of the competition for places. It’s not a squad that you want to give up your place in lightly.”
The manager reaffirmed his earlier position of not “pestering” his players between international camps in respect of whether he should hold a meeting with Fraser. It is clear, though, that he demands firm commitment from all squad members.
“It’s a conversation for March [before Scotland play Ukraine],” Clarke said. “He has to get into his team. He doesn’t play regularly at Newcastle, he is in and out of the team.
“I wouldn’t like to think the whole year ends up speaking about someone who’s chosen not to be in the squad rather than the boys who have. Lyndon Dykes came to play when his ankle was hanging off. He came and he tried a training session. He wanted to fly to Moldova just to watch. He joined us in Glasgow and took part in a training session and five minutes into the session you could see the boy was injured. But he didn’t want to admit it because he wanted to be part of the team and he wanted to play against Denmark. That’s the type of player I want.”
Having originally been confident of an amnesty regarding bookings and potential suspensions carried over from qualifying groups into World Cup play-offs, Clarke now believes the existing scenario will stand. “We will have eight or nine on a yellow card against Ukraine with the threat of missing the final if we got there,” he said. “That’s a shame.”