GORDON Strachan has admitted he is facing a selection dilemma up front in Scotland’s vital Russia 2018 qualifier against Slovenia this weekend – due to the fact just one of his five strikers started at the weekend.
Strachan has named Steven Fletcher, Leigh Griffiths, Chris Martin, Steven Naismith and Jordan Rhodes in his 30 man squad for the friendly international against Canada tomorrow night and Slovenia on Sunday.
However, only Rhodes, who last played under Strachan nearly two years ago when he came on as a second half substitute in a Euro 2016 qualifier against Gibraltar, was picked by his club manager ahead of the double header.
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The 27-year-old played for Sheffield Wednesday, where he is on loan from Middlesbrough until the end of the season, in their 2-0 defeat to Sky Bet Championship rivals Reading on Friday evening.
Elsewhere, Fletcher (Wednesday) and Naismith (Norwich City) only came on as substitutes while Griffiths (Celtic) and Martin (Fulham) remained on the bench.
Strachan, whose side is second bottom of Group F and needs to beat Slovenia to keep alive their slim hopes of reaching next year’s World Cup finals, admitted the meeting with Canada at Easter Road will give his forwards much-needed game time.
“There are players who haven’t played so much for their clubs,” he said. “I’m trying to get a shape that can affect Canada, but will also give players like Steven Naismith, Chris Martin, Ikechi Anya and Steven Fletcher some match action.
“I am pleased we have taken the Canada game now. I did think I would need to do it. Because look at the strikers. Of the five we’ve picked, only one has started over the last couple of weekends. That’s a bit disappointing for them – and for us.
“Because that striking business, it’s like putting at golf. You can get to a certain stage with your game, but playing regularly is what makes you able to make that putt. It’s the same with the finishing for strikers. You need that clinical edge.”
Asked if not featuring regularly at club level would hinder a striker’s chances of getting selected against Slovenia, Strachan replied: “Well, it can’t, because I wouldn’t have anybody to start.
“What you’ve got to look for then is who looks good, who looks strong, who is the fittest, who will last the longest and who feels good about themselves?
“People can be out of the team and still feel really good about themselves, while others take it personally when they’re not picked. So there are a lot of elements in how I pick this side.”