Levein Confident In His Selections
Still football to be played with travel to Ireland next week for the Scotland squad. The season has ended but there are still a couple of international games which Scotland will have to get up for. Craig Levein is confident his players will approach the final two Carling Nations Cup games, against Wales and the Republic of Ireland, with relish. The Scotland manager has been keen to develop a team Scotland attitude to his squads by assembling a group of players desperate to play for their country. He announced his squad for the games in Dublin on Tuesday and added two new names to the list. Celtic winger James Forrest was brought in as part of Levein's plan to prepare young players for the rigours of international football. And Norwich right-back Russell Martin, who qualifies through his father, proved his eagerness to play for Scotland by cutting short a club trip to the US by flying back to search for his birth certificate in order to prove his eligibility. Scotland take on Wales next Wednesday, just days after the Celtic and Motherwell Scottish Cup final and after a fraught end to the Premier League campaign for relegation-threatened players such as Blackpool midfielder Charlie Adam and Wolves defender Christophe Berra. Levein said: "I'm confident the guys want to play for Scotland and want to be there. There are always injuries and we've had our fair share of those, we have to wait to see the outcome of some unbelievably important matches in the next week or so. We still have the situation where we have (Peterborough striker) Craig Mackail-Smith involved with play-offs, he might be involved in a final but that's not a bad reason for him to miss out. I'm sure there will be one or two who will not make it but when you name a squad there is always an element of doubt." Players in the squad will have had vastly different season and Levein will have to mould them into a unit which is looking to win for their country. He said: "The one thing they will all have in common is that they are all desperate to play for Scotland. Every time players play an international match, they have played a match the week before. Some have lost, some have drawn, some have won. Once they meet up with the Scotland squad the camaraderie is at a level now that any disappointments the players have will be put to one side and they will concentrate on the international match. We are trying very hard to create a mentality within the squad that we want to win football matches and play well on top of that. We're trying very hard to create a camaraderie in the group where they look forward to meeting up and seeing their team-mates playing for Scotland. If I get that right, then everyone who is fit and available will be there for Scotland. For me it's all about building this team mentality. We have made progress, there is still a fair bit to do yet. Every time I get a chance to work with players it makes it a bit easier for me and I think it helps the players when they are together, to become more of a team." Levein has brought Blackpool goalkeeper Matt Gilks and Leeds striker Ross McCormack into the squad. They last played for Scotland against Wales in a 3-0 loss which spelled the end of George Burley's time in charge. Levein said: "I have always been a big admirer of Ross, when he was playing at Motherwell in particular, he was an extremely difficult opponent to play against. He was a tad unfortunate when he got his move to Leeds, with the system they played he missed out in the early part of the season, but he has been in the team in recent matches. There is absolutely no doubt he has the talent to play international football, he has proved that in the past, and I'm dead keen to work with him and get him in the side." Of course injuries restricted Levein's choices. He had to leave out injured Alan Hutton, Craig Gordon, Robert Snodgrass and Graham Dorrans, Celtic full-back Mark Wilson is rested amid ongoing knee problems, while Darren Fletcher is unavailable given Manchester United's participation in the Champions League final. Levein is still respecting Wolves striker Steven Fletcher decision not to be picked for the 3-0 Carling Nations Cup win over Northern Ireland in February. This does not mean Levein has closed the door open for the on-form striker to come back to the fold. And David Goodwillie, who won all three of Scottish football's young player of the year awards, remains out of the picture while a police investigation surround him continues.
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