Football: McAllister recalled by depleted Scotland

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The Independent Online
CRAIG BROWN, the Scotland manager, has restored Gary McAllister to the international scene ahead of his team's European Championship qualifiers against Bosnia at Ibrox and the Czech Republic at Parkhead at the end of the month.

The Coventry midfielder last played for his country against France in St-Etienne in November 1997 before a knee injury ruled him out of last year's World Cup. Brown invited the 34-year-old to the tournament as a non-playing member of the party and has now recalled him to the ranks.

This loyalty from Brown has not always been shared by some Scotland supporters, but the national coach denied any suggestions of favouritism. "I am very pleased that Gary is back and I think football people know his qualities. He's a team player who is highly respected within the game. The fans maybe want younger players, but Gary has been brilliant since his return to fitness and in my view is one of the best midfield players in England," Brown said. "He has been outstanding of late which justifies his inclusion and I don't think anyone could ever fault his contribution for Scotland."

With at least 10 players ruled out through injury Brown admitted his options were limited to the extent where much of the squad selected itself.

Among the injured are the first-choice strike partnership of Kevin Gallacher of Blackburn, who has a damaged calf, and Rangers' Gordon Durie, out with an Achilles problem. Everton's Don Hutchison is one of three uncapped players in the squad alongside Hearts' Paul Ritchie and the Dundee goalkeeper, Robert Douglas.

Brown is clearly concerned his side will struggle to pose enough of a goal threat but is confident Hutchison can perform at international level. "It is alarming we have no recognised striker in the squad, but Everton have been using Don Hutchison to play there and he has done well in that role."

The striking shortage means Brown will also look to the midfield for goals, where Leeds' David Hopkin is likely to play, while Aberdeen's Eoin Jess will lead the front-line.

SCOTLAND SQUAD (European Championship qualifying matches v Bosnia, 27 March, Ibrox, and v Czech Republic, 31 March, Parkhead): Goalkeepers: Gould (Celtic), Sullivan (Wimbledon), Main (St Johnstone), Douglas (Dundee). Defenders: Boyd (Celtic), Davidson (Blackburn), Elliott (Leicester), Ritchie (Hearts), Weir (Everton), Whyte (Aberdeen), McNamara (Celtic). Midfielders: Burley (Celtic), Durrant (Kilmarnock), B Ferguson (Rangers), Hopkin (Leeds), Lambert (Celtic), McAllister (Coventry). Forwards: Dodds (Dundee United), Hutchison (Everton), Jess (Aberdeen), Johnston (Sunderland), McCann (Rangers).