Scotland recall 40-year-old Weir for qualifiers - International - Football - The Independent

Scotland recall 40-year-old Weir for qualifiers

Craig Levein will rely on experience as he tries to guide Scotland through their Euro 2012 qualifying campaign after recalling 40-year-old David Weir and Paul Hartley, 33, to his squad. The pair have been brought back for the double header against Lithuania and Liechtenstein next month with Levein, the manager, wanting the veterans around as Scotland begin "playing for real".

Weir, the Rangers captain, last played for his country against the Netherlands at Hampden Park almost a year ago and was left out of the manager's first two squads for the friendlies against the Czech Republic and Sweden.

However, in the wake of a 3-0 drubbing in Stockholm a fortnight ago, the former Hearts and Everton defender has been recalled and will win his 66th cap in the crucial opener against Lithuania in Kaunas on 3 September.

Levein has no qualms about turning to a player whose international career most people thought was over. "The thing about Davie is he is still playing at the highest level week in, week out," he said.

"The fact he is still turning in top-class performances means it was a pretty easy decision to make for me. I had a good chat with him and told him I was not just bringing him along for the ride. I had a look at a few people in the last couple of games but we are playing for real now."

Weir's inclusion came at the expense of Garry Kenneth after the 23-year-old took a lot of the blame for the defeat in Stockholm. However, Levein reassured the Dundee United defender he would not be discounted in future.

"My job is to pick the best players for each position and if you look around, Davie is probably as good as anyone," said the manager. "Garry will have his day. If he keeps improving he will come back in.

"It is dog-eat-dog and all I can do is give people an opportunity. It is then up to them to take it."

Hartley, the new Aberdeen captain, also returns after earning his last cap in March when he was in the final year of his Bristol City contract.

"As I said before, the only reason Paul was not in the squad against Sweden was that he did not find a club," Levein said. "Experience was the key with him. We do not have a natural holding midfield player but Paul's experience in the position is vital for me."

In the main, there was a look of familiarity about Levein's squad but Blackpool keeper Matt Gilks was called up for the first time after the Scottish Football Association discovered that the player has Scottish grandparents. Rochdale-born Gilks, who conceded six goals at the Emirates Stadium to Arsenal last Saturday, replaces Neil Alexander and will be kept in reserve with David Marshall. Allan McGregor will again be the first choice in the absence of the injured Sunderland goalkeeper Craig Gordon.

Steven Fletcher, Kevin McNaughton and Alan Hutton have also been included in the squad even though injuries are likely to rule them out against Lithuania.

Fletcher has bruised a bone in his foot, McNaughton has a minor hamstring strain and Hutton is recovering from a groin operation. "If their injuries improve significantly, then they will be considered," Levein said.

Scotland squad for the Euro 2012 qualifying games against Lithuania and Liechtenstein on 3 and 7 September respectively Marshall (Cardiff), McGregor (Rangers), Gilks (Blackpool); Hutton (Tottenham), Berra (Wolves), Broadfoot (Rangers), McManus (Middlesbrough), Weir (Rangers) McCulloch (Rangers), Wallace (Hearts), Webster (Rangers), Whittaker (Rangers), McNaughton (Cardiff); Adam (Blackpool), Brown (Celtic), Dorrans (West Brom), Fletcher (Man Utd), Morrison (West Brom), Robson (Middlesbrough), Hartley, (Aberdeen); Boyd (Middlesbrough),Fletcher (Wolves), Iwelumo (Burnley), McFadden (Birmingham), Miller (Rangers) Naismith (Rangers).

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