The stylish Rangers midfielder's inclusion in the 21-strong squad for the first of the Scots' 10 World Cup qualifying fixtures, against Switzerland in Berne a week tomorrow, means he is back where he was forced to leave off in October 1988. Durrant had just won his fifth cap, coincidentally in the opening qualifier for Italia '90, when he was badly injured in a challenge with Aberdeen's Neil Simpson.
Damaged cruciate ligaments in his right knee eventually required major surgery in the United States. After missing the greater part of three seasons, Durrant did not regain a regular place with Rangers until early this year. He recently announced his intention to sue both Simpson, now with Motherwell, and Aberdeen for pounds 2m in damages.
Even this season the 25-year-old Durrant has started only five games, with Rangers apparently still wary of pushing him too hard. However, he scored against Celtic 10 days ago and on Saturday, against Aberdeen of all teams, before laying on another goal in a 3-1 victory. He is at last running with his old fluidity, although Andy Roxburgh admitted yesterday that he had also made sure Durrant was 'mentally ready' to return.
'This is a significant barrier for Ian to break through,' the national coach said. 'The minute he gets on to the field as a Scotland player again, his recovery will be complete.'
The midfield quartet of McStay, McCall, McAllister and McClair was the Scots' strongest unit in the European Championship finals, and Roxburgh is likely to trust initially in 'Les Macs' of L'Equipe fame. But Durrant, a natural attacker, may well be summoned if, as happened in Berne last September, Scotland find themselves chasing the game. On that occasion they drew 2-2, which in effect booked their place in Sweden.
Durrant comes in for Dave Bowman, who has himself only just reappeared after being hurt playing for Dundee United's sponsors. Otherwise Roxburgh keeps faith with the players who earned so many plaudits, if only two points, during their Swedish sojourn.
Robert Fleck, yet to score for Chelsea, and John Robertson, looking for form with Hearts after an operation, will not be surprised to have been left out. Kevin Gallacher, without a goal for his country and with only one match for Coventry this season behind him, is perhaps fortunate to be preferred to Celtic's Gerry Creaney. Scot Gemmill, the Nottingham Forest midfielder, is the only other realistic candidate overlooked.
Darren Ferguson, son of the Manchester United and former Scotland manager Alex, has been called into the Under-21 squad for the first time.
SCOTLAND SQUAD (for the World Cup Qualifier against Switzerland in Berne, 9 September): Goram (Rangers), Smith (Hearts), Marshall (Celtic), McKimmie (Aberdeen), McLaren (Hearts), Malpas (Dundee Utd), Gough (Rangers), Boyd (Celtic), McPherson (Rangers), Whyte (Middlesbrough), McAllister (Leeds), McCall (Rangers), McInally (Dundee Utd), P McStay (Celtic), Durrant (Rangers), McClair (Man Utd), McCoist (Rangers), Nevin (Tranmere), Durie (Tottenham), Ferguson (Dundee Utd), Gallacher (Coventry).
SCOTLAND UNDER-21 SQUAD (for UEFA Championship match against Switzerland in Sursee, 8 September): Reid (Hibs), Will (Arsenal), Wright (Aberdeen), Burley (Chelsea), Salton (Luton), Murray, Hagen (Rangers), F Johnston (Falkirk), McAuley (St Johnstone), Ferguson (Man Utd), G Johnston, Bollan (Dundee Utd), Bernard (Oldham), O'Donnell (Motherwell), O'Neill (Celtic), Dailly (Dundee Utd), Roddie, Booth (Aberdeen).Reuse content