Scotland Under-21 boss Billy Stark today assured Leigh Griffiths he hasn’t been forgotten after overlooking the Hibs striker for a second match in succession.
Griffiths was omitted from the squad for the European Championship clash with the Netherlands at the end of February, Stark citing the on-loan Wolves player’s then disciplinary problems and subsequent lack of game time due to suspension.
But while team-mates Paul Hanlon and David Wotherspoon were included in the Scotland squad for next week’s glamour friendly against Italy at Easter Road, Griffiths’ name was again missing despite Stark admitting the majority of the crowd next Wednesday night are likely to be Hibs fans given the venue.
Stark, however, stressed the latest snub didn’t signal the end of Griffiths’ Under-21 career, insisting he’d taken the opportunity ahead of the crunch Euro qualifying match against Bulgaria next month to introduce younger blood with an eye to the longer-term future.
Stark said: “I want to see Michael O’Halloran [Bolton Wanderers] and Alex McDonald, who is doing well at Plymouth.
“I have had Leigh for four years, he was right into my first Under-19 squad. I know exactly what he can do and he has shown a bit of that at Hibs. It’s the same with Jordan [Rhodes, who has also been left out], we know what they can do so it’s an opportunity for one or two others.
“The door never shuts on anyone. With young players in particular lots of things can happen in their life that we read about unfortunately sometimes. Form is something that fluctuates.
“Always, or almost always, it’s about trying to get the best squad and team that you feel can do the job in the international game coming up. Sometimes, as with this one, there’s a bit of room there to look at one or two other young ones.”