Scotland manager Steve Clarke has raised eyebrows with the inclusion of Stoke City’s Jacob Brown for the upcoming World Cup qualifiers against Moldova and Denmark – but MLS duo Johnny Russell and Ryan Gauld must be wondering what they have to do to force their way into the manager’s thoughts.
The Stoke City man has had a fairly decent start to the season, scoring four and contributing four assists in 19 appearances for the Potters but both Gauld and Russell’s recent performances have exceeded those of Brown.
Russell has hit eleven goals in his last eleven appearances for Sporting Kansas City, helping SKC secure their place in the MLS Cup Playoffs, while Gauld has made a fantastic start to his career in North America.
The former Dundee United midfielder have five goals and five assists for Vancouver Whitecaps and has been a massive player for the ‘Caps since making the move from Portugal to Canada.
While everyone will be hopnig Brown makes his mark on the international scene following his maiden call-up, Clarke’s stubborn refusal to apparently even consider the likes of Gauld and Russell makes absolutely no sense.
With Ryan Christie and Lyndon Dykes both suspended against Moldova either Gauld or Russell could have come straight into the side and offered something very different to what the current squad has to offer.
Russell has shown consistently during his time in the US that he’s still more than capable of being a usefel member of Clarke’s squad – while Gauld’s form is up there with arguably any player in the squad.
If there is a legitimate reason for Clarke’s stubborn refusal to pick either of them, it would do the manager a lot of good to make it public but, on the face of it, all it looks like is he doesn’t fancy the level they are playing at.
Clarke’s position would at least make sense if we were blessed with a host of talent who were head and shoulders above Gauld and Russell but the fact the Scotland boss has instead turned to Brown.
Hopefully the Stoke City striker turns out to be a clever pick by Clarke but he’s going to have to explain his continued omission of the MLS-based duo soon.
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