Commons: Celtic form key to Scotland recall

 

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The Independent Online

Kris Commons is keen to resurrect his Scotland career but insists his priority must be earning a regular starting slot for Celtic.

The winger's progress has been hampered by injury in recent weeks but he made his return from a calf problem as a substitute in the Europa League win over Rennes at the start of the month, before starting against Motherwell a few days later.

Once established in Hoops manager Neil Lennon's plans again, Commons is hoping to impress Lennon's Scotland counterpart, Craig Levein, enough to earn an international recall.

Commons has nine caps so far, and has scored twice, but has not featured since a friendly defeat against Brazil last March, with Levein stating loss of form as the reason for his omission from the national squad earlier this season.

The player himself is well aware he needs to replicate the form he demonstrated last term for both club and country. Commons said: "I need to concentrate on my game at Celtic. I have spoken with Craig and he's not going to hand out call-ups and caps just for the sake of it.

"While I have been injured I've not been involved in many games over the last four weeks so it's just important for me to stay fit, keep getting fitter and hopefully, if I start producing the football I did last year, I can force my way back into the squad.

"But that's the last thing on my mind at the minute, I just want to get back into the Celtic starting XI and produce the football I'm capable of."

Sir Alex Ferguson believes midfield is the key to Levein taking Scotland to the 2014 World Cup finals. The side failed to reach next summer's European Championships but following Friday's 2-1 friendly win in Cyprus, Levein claimed his first choice midfield is the best the national side has had for 20 years.

Manchester United manager Ferguson believes Scotland have improved under Levein and claims the likes of his Old Trafford midfielder and Scotland captain, Darren Fletcher, James Morrison and Steven Naismith, when he recovers from his cruciate ligament injury, can be the foundation for qualifying for Brazil in three years.

"I do see a resurgence under Craig," Ferguson said. "I think we've got a very good group of midfield players. That is the strength. At the moment you'd think if they can get a couple of players in important positions they could be decent but in the midfield they are very good.

"There is a collection of them; James McArthur, Graham Dorrans, Darren Fletcher and James Morrison, so there is quite a few players there. Steven Naismith, who does a fantastic job.

"So that is their strength and they are doing really well. I thought they played good football on Friday night. If they are going to qualify for the World Cup that is going to be their strength."

The Scottish Premier League has opened an investigation into allegations of pro-IRA chanting at Celtic Park.

The SPL's operations officer, Ian Blair, confirmed that, in his role as match commander at the Celtic versus Hibernian Scottish Premier League game at Parkhead last month, former referee and senior policeman Eddie Smith complained to a match delegate about songs sung during the goalless draw.

"Eddie mentioned to our delegate that there was pro-IRA chanting from one specific section," Blair said. "It was included in the report and is now subject to an ongoing investigation."

It has been reported that two arrests were made during the Hibs match. Blair said: "I am currently gathering information about what happened during the match when the arrests were made.

"Eddie has mentioned that there was pro-IRA chanting but we need to find out more about when it happened and what exactly went on. We also have to establish that Celtic, as I am sure they will have, co-operated fully with the police in the aftermath of this event."

Celtic are already facing disciplinary proceedings from Uefa, on 8 December, over "illicit chanting" during their Europa League tie against Rennes at Parkhead earlier this month.

It was reported that Smith made the complaint to the Uefa delegate on the night. Celtic have confirmed they will co-operate fully with Uefa's investigation.

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