Hearts captain Christophe Berra today revealed his disappointment at not being included in Alex McLeish’s first Scotland squad for the upcoming friendlies against Costa Rica and Hungary.
Berra, 33, has arguably been the outstanding defender in the Ladbrokes Premiership since returning to his formative club last summer, and contributed to another clean sheet in the 3-0 weekend win over Partick Thistle.
An ankle injury meant the Tynecastle skipper has required injections in order to play in recent weeks. He revealed fitness issues wouldn’t have prevented him from at least joining up with the squad had he been selected, and that McLeish informed him beforehand of his intention to go with some younger players.
Experienced central defenders Charlie Mulgrew of English League One side Blackburn Rovers and Russell Martin were included – although the on-loan Rangers player has since withdrawn due to injury – but Berra remained philosophical.
“When you first get the call, you’re obviously disappointed but you learn the older you get that you just take it on the chin and get on with it,” said the 41-times capped player, who had started the past six Scotland matches. “Alex just phoned me and a few other players to say he was going to try the younger ones so it’s down to him. Football’s about opinions – if he fancies me, he fancies me and if he doesn’t, there’s not much I can do. I’ve always given my all for Scotland so all I can do is keep playing as well as I can for Hearts and keep up our good record defensively.
“The injury wouldn’t have me prevented joining up with the squad – you go along and assess how bad the ankle is, it just depends.”
Berra was also surprised that team-mate John Souttar wasn’t given a first call-up to the senior side.
“John’s had a great season,” he said. “[Alex McLeish] might not fancy him or might not have seen him that much, I don’t know. All John can do is play well for Hearts which he did again on Saturday. He’s got a lot of attributes and, if he keeps playing as he is for his club, the rest will take care of itself.”
The upside for Berra and Hearts is that the rest will allow him proper recovery time after recent running repairs.
“I did it about five or six weeks ago on the astro,” he recalled. “I was training fine then it would hurt now and then in a couple of games but the day before the Motherwell game I stretched it and needed an injection before gong for a scan.
“It’s bone bruising. It doesn’t sound that bad but it’s in between the joint. I weigh 90-odd kilos so it can be quite sore at times. I’ve been getting injections to take the edge of the pain but now I can rest it with a few days off.
“I was maybe going to miss the last couple of game but it improved during the week. I don’t like missing games – I want to play in every one. The scan confirmed it wasn’t going to get any worse so I was able to get through them.”