Anthony Brown: Man-management crucial as Gord looks to lift Scots

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When Gordon Strachan scribbles down the names of all the realistic contenders for a Scotland squad berth, he will find he has been left with a pool of some 51 players who could reasonably be considered 
for inclusion.

In addition to the tried-and- tested 30 or so who Craig 
Levein, Strachan’s predecessor, generally called upon, this group would extend to youngsters such as Kenny McLean, Liam Kelly, Leigh Griffiths, Johnny 
Russell and Gary Mackay-Steven, as well as fringe men like Murray Davidson, Craig Bryson, Matt Phillips, Ross McCormack and Andrew Shinnie – and the forgotten trio of Kevin Thomson, James McFadden and Stephen McManus.

Aside from the 33-year-old Kenny Miller, none of the listed 51 are over 30, so Strachan has a solid pool he can work with for a few years, at least.

Top-class talent is thin on the ground, with the two Fletchers – Darren and Steven 
– as well as goalkeepers Allan McGregor and Craig Gordon (albeit the latter is still battling serious injury) probably the only Scots who would be considered by the top 
national teams in Europe. As a result, it is reasonable to 
assume that McGregor and the Fletchers will form the spine of the team, along with the Wigan Athletic captain Gary Caldwell, who was a linchpin of Strachan’s 
successful Celtic side.

After that, the rest of the team will be made up of a solid batch of reliable performers of whom there is very little to choose between. Take the full-backs, for instance, where he will have to pick any two from Phil Bardsley, Steven Whittaker, Alan Hutton, Russell Martin, Charlie Mulgrew, Danny Fox, Lee Wallace and Paul Dixon. If you asked a dozen people to pick their two full-backs, they would probably all come up with different combinations.

Likewise with the wide players, where you could throw a blanket over the likes of Steven Naismith, James Forrest, Robert 
Snodgrass, Shaun Maloney, Phillips, Kris Commons and Jamie Mackie in terms of what they bring to the party.

Of the 51, Strachan would have to leave more than half of these out of his squad and then another half again out of his starting line-ups. It makes for a lot of disappointed 
bodies and this is where Strachan’s man-management will come into play most. After all, it was strops from Kris Boyd and Steven Fletcher, 
when they were overlooked 
by George Burley and Levein
respectively, that did no 
end of damage to the 
new manager’s immediate predecessors.

GOALKEEPERS

Allan McGregor (Besiktas)

Cammy Bell (Kilmarnock)

Matt Gilks (Blackpool)

Craig Samson (St Mirren)

Craig Gordon (unnattached)

Defenders

Alan Hutton (Aston Villa)

Russell Martin (Norwich)

Danny Wilson (Liverpool)

Paul Dixon (Huddersfield)

Grant Hanley (Blackburn)

Christophe Berra (Wolves)

Gary Caldwell (Wigan)

Stephen McManus (Middlesbrough)

Mark Reynolds (Aberdeen)

Andy Webster (Hearts)

Charlie Mulgrew (Celtic)

Phil Bardsley (Sunderland)

Danny Fox (Southampton)

Lee Wallace (Rangers)

Steven Whittaker (Norwich)

Midfielders

Charlie Adam (Stoke)

Darren Fletcher (Man United)

Kevin Thomson (Middlesbrough

Barry Bannan (Aston Villa)

Craig Bryson (Derby County)

James McArthur (Wigan)

Scott Brown (Celtic)

Don Cowie (Cardiff)

Graham Dorrans (West Brom)

James Morrison (West Brom)

Kenny McLean (St Mirren)

Andrew Shinnie (Inverness)

Murray Davidson (St Johnstone)

Liam Kelly (Bristol City)

James Forrest (Celtic)

Shaun Maloney (Wigan)

Kris Commons (Celtic)

Mackay-Steven (Dundee Utd)

Matt Phillips (Blackpool)

Robert Snodgrass (Norwich)

Steven Naismith (Everton)

Strikers

Ross McCormack (Leeds)

Steven Fletcher (Sunderland)

David Goodwillie (Blackburn)

Jordan Rhodes (Blackburn)

Kenny Miller (Vancouver)

Craig Mackail-Smith (Brighton)

Johnny Russell (Dundee Utd)

Jamie Mackie (QPR)

Leigh Griffiths (Hibs)

James McFadden (Sunderland)