Arsenal have held Kieran Tierney back from Scotland duty this month, a decision that someone has to answer for.
Scotland boss Steve Clarke has already vented his frustration over the Gunners left-back, admitting that the London club asked for the full-back not to go on international duty (Daily Mail).
This is the same Tierney that has since featured for them and been seen in matchday squads for Arsenal.
Tierney is a committed player who’ll likely want to play for his nation, so this isn’t a cheap shot at him. His absence has been clouded with mystery though.
Diplomatic Scotland stance with Arsenal can only hold for so long
There’s been no condemnation of Arsenal’s decision yet, with a diplomatic approach being adopted by Clarke. It’s completely reasonable but it can only stand for so long.
Come the next internationals, it’ll be over a year since Tierney’s last Scots appearance. Yes he’s had his fitness issues this term, but he has featured five times now this season.
It must be so frustrating for Clarke. Tierney is one of his better players and you only need to ask predecessor Alex McLeish as to what happens when your best players are constantly unavailable.
Matt Phillips, Robert Snodgrass and Matt Ritchie are just some of the quality players not available to him for one reason or another.
There seems to be no good reason brought forward to justify Tierney’s exclusion. Arsenal will have their reasons, but it’s becoming increasingly frustrating for Scotland.
If Arsenal prove tricky customers in the future, the SFA would be well within their rights to use FIFA’s five-day rule, which could restrict him from making Arsenal appearances.
It states that the player is ‘not entitled to play for the club with which he is registered during the period for which he has been released or should have been released pursuant to the provisions of this annexe.’
This would suspend him from making Arsenal appearances five days following Scotland duty. It’s a situation all parties will want to avoid, but Clarke has to make sure he gets his best players available for selection.