Vogts calls up Alexander and Stockdale

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The Independent Football

Six seasons at Scunthorpe, four with Luton, four at Preston: it scarcely reads like an international pedigree, but the presence of Graham Alexander in the Scotland squad to face Nigeria at Aberdeen a week tonight exemplifies Berti Vogts' willingness to consider any eligible player as well as perhaps the paucity of resources available to the former Germany coach.

Alexander, who will be 31 in October and was born in Coventry of a Glaswegian father, is rated by his former club manager, Everton's David Moyes, as the best right-back in the English First Division. He is also a set-piece specialist, although whether such attributes will translate to the international stage remains to be seen.

He is joined in Vogts' 25-man pool to meet England's World Cup opponents by another new "Anglo" who also happens to be a right-sided defender or wing-back, Robbie Stockdale of Middlesbrough. The 22-year-old from Redcar qualifies by virtue of a granny from Campbeltown, and as well as having time on his side he has at least had regular Premiership football.

Like several of the players blooded -- and bloodied -- in the five-goal deflowering of Scotland by France last month, the three other fresh faces are from the youthful end of the spectrum. Garry O'Connor, 18, is in his first season as a first-choice striker with Hibernian; Gareth Williams, 20, was coveted by Wales until they realised the Nottingham Forest midfielder was from Glasgow; and Michael Stewart, 21, reminds Vogts' predecessor, Craig Brown, of Gary McAllister and Gordon Strachan but has not figured for Manchester United this season.

Rangers' Barry Ferguson is earmarked to partner Paul Lambert in midfield after being spared the Stade de France due to injury. Of those who featured in Paris, Colin Cameron, Jackie McNamara and Dougie Freedman have been jettisoned. Freedman may feel aggrieved given that he is a penalty-box player who was played wide in midfield against Bixente Lizarazu and Thierry Henry.

Vogts also announced a "Scotland Practice Squad" for a trial match against Dundee United at Stirling on 30 April. Drawn largely from the lower divisions and reserve teams south of the border, it contains one full cap, Watford's Stephen Glass, plus the sons of Joe Jordan and Kenny Dalglish. As with the "big" squad, however, the open-house policy does not extend to either Derek McInnes or Alex Rae, the driving force behind West Bromwich and Wolves respectively this season.

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