No surprises in Scotland squad


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The Independent Football

Interim Scotland manager Billy Stark has named a familiar squad for next week's friendly against Luxembourg with no surprise inclusions.

But there are some notable absentees including Gary Caldwell, Scott Brown, Allan McGregor and Alan Hutton, although Kenny Miller retains his place.

Aston Villa midfielder Barry Bannan has earned a recall and full-backs Steven Whittaker and Phil Bardsley return following ankle injuries.

Kilmarnock goalkeeper Cammy Bell comes in for the absent McGregor.

Stark revealed that the omission of some of the regulars was simply down to a decision to rest some players.

He said: "For a November friendly, a lot of football has already been played and some players will have niggles they would love the opportunity to shake off.

"Allan McGregor and Gary Caldwell, in particular, have been real stalwarts and terrific players for the national team in recent years.

"I've spoken to them and they were grateful to have the opportunity to have a wee break from this game.

"There is nothing more to it than that. It's simply the stage they are at.

"Allan McGregor rushed back from injury and was an absolute star for us in those games.

"But he's out in Turkey now and, with family circumstances, it was a good opportunity to show a bit of compassion in that sense."

Stark takes charge for the match in Luxembourg on November 14 following the sacking of Craig Levein on Monday.

A number of high-profile candidates have already been linked with the vacancy, including bookmakers' favourite Gordon Strachan.

Stark declined to throw his hat in the ring for the job but refused to rule himself out either.

He said: "I don't know how that process works in terms of applications.

"I've been happy in the under-21s job and I'm honoured and absolutely delighted to have the faith of the board that I can prove myself capable of taking the team next week.

"I don't think you rule anything out in football."

Asked if managing the senior team is a dream job, he added: "I think it's a job that every individual would covet.

"I've been very proud to be the manager of the under-21s and I can only imagine that would be exaggerated when you're in the full job.

"My remit is to take the team through the Luxembourg fixture and that's all I'm concentrating on."