Hibs defender Lewis Stevenson leaves Scotland tour

Lewis Stevenson made his Scotland debut against Peru
Lewis Stevenson made his Scotland debut against Peru
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Hibs defender Lewis Stevenson has left Scotland’s tour of Latin America to head on a pre-booked family holiday.

Stevenson, who, along with Easter Road team-mate Dylan McGeouch made an accomplished international debut in Tuesday evening’s 2-0 defeat by Peru, had an agreement in place allowing him to depart after the opening match.

West Bromwich Albion striker Matt Phillips has also left the squad due to a prior engagement.

“Lewis has gone back,” confirmed Scotland manager Alex McLeish.

“He has gone on a family holiday which was booked before he was called up. He bust a gut to come for this one and his family are already there so we agreed he would play one game. He is leaving but he had a smashing game (versus Peru). He showed he is a candidate.

“Matt Phillips has an engagement. We agreed two months ago at the last gathering that he would come and play only one game.”

McLeish, whose side face Mexico on Saturday, is not looking to call anyone else in and has been boosted by the arrival of Johnny Russell. The Sporting Kansas City star was always going to join up with his international team-mates after the Peru match because of club commitments. He is now likely to start in Mexico City, along with Celtic defender Jack Hendry and Aberdeen pair Ryan Christie and Graeme Shinnie, who came on as a second-half substitute against Peru.

McLeish, meanwhile, absolved Jordan Archer of blame for Scotland’s loss to Peru but still intends to hand Hearts goalkeeper Jon McLaughlin a debut in the imposing Azteza Stadium this weekend.

Archer endured a difficult debut in the Estadio Nacional del Peru as the hosts scored twice either side of half-time to condemn an inexperienced Scotland side to defeat .

McLaughlin, out of contract at Tynecastle and whose club future remains unclear, will be tasked with taking over in goal against the World Cup-bound Mexicans. The 30-year-old is expected to start but give way to Celtic’s Scott Bain some time in the second half.

Both goalkeepers watched from the bench as Archer, one of a total of seven Scotland debutants against Peru, rushed from his goal with the intention to deal with a ball up the left flank. The 25-year-old collided with Charlie Mulgrew and, in the ensuing chaos, Scott McKenna conceded a penalty after stopping Jefferson Farfan’s effort going towards the empty goal with his hand. Christian Cueva converted the penalty.

Archer was also blamed in some quarters for letting Farfan’s effort shortly after half-time cross the line. But McLeish was adamant others had to carry the can for that game-ending strike.

“I think Jordan thinks he shouldn’t have come for the first one,” said McLeish. “I think it’s harsh to criticise him for the second one, it’s point-blank, it’s come through a ruck of players. We’ve got to ask our defenders why they didn’t stop that cutback. (Scott) McTominay stopped the first one and the next one came through a channel that we should be shutting out.

“We spoke to him (Archer) after the game,” he said. “He is a big boy. He has played in a tough league this season with great aplomb in an amazing Millwall adventure that almost led to the play-offs.

“The only goal they targeted last season was to avoid relegation. So he has had a great season with a lot of shut outs. He deserves to be here. There is not evidence another goalkeeper wouldn’t have made a mistake. We don’t have an experienced goalkeeper here. Every goalie makes a mistake.”