BRENDAN Rodgers, the Celtic manager, believes that Scott Sinclair would not be out of his depth if he was called into Gareth Southgate’s England squad.
The 28-year-old is the favourite to take the Player of the Year award such has been his contribution to Celtic’s season – the player has netted 23 goals across all competitions – with his club manager insistent that he has the necessary qualities required for international football.
The problem for Sinclair is the low esteem with which the Scottish league is viewed makes a call-up for the English national squad unlikely, no matter the level and consistency of performance at Celtic, as many before him would confirm.
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Scotland host England at Hampden in a FIFA World Cup qualifier on June 10 and while it remains doubtful that Sinclair will find himself in the squad, Rodgers believes he has earned a shot at it.
“He has got a lot of choice, Gareth,” said Rodgers. “It is interesting because Gareth played 3-4-3 in one of their last games, at times which we play, so he knows the role and you need people who are direct and who can score goals and play.
“With Scotty, I think he has shown that. With Scotty and with England he suits the criteria; he is fast, he is strong, he has good technique, he has an eye for goal and he is robust and he works hard. It wouldn’t surprise me, having worked with some of the players at that level closely, because he is certainly at that level.”
Sinclair is one of only a handful of Celtic players for whom international football this summer is not already a given. Tom Rogic, the 24-year-old Australian midfielder, has joined the list of Celtic players who will give his manager food for thought during the close season. While the Scotland players who will feature against England will get a short break, given the gruelling schedule of the Socceroos there is every chance that Rogic will eschew entirely the chance to swap his work shirt for board shorts and flip-flops.
For a player who is making the first tentative steps back into Celtic’s first-team after a four month lay-off, there are two aspects to the five-game calendar that he has been called up for. Firstly, there is positive consideration to be given for game time which could potentially return him to Glasgow ready for competitive football. The other side of the coin is that, given the staccato manner of his time at Parkhead, the game time married to the travelling schedule could work against him.
Australia have a World Cup qualifier against Saudi Arabia before playing a friendly against Brazil. They then then have three Confederations Cup games against Germany, Chile and Cameroon. Should they get to the final of the tournament in Russia there could be further games to play. Little surprise then that Rodgers will touch base with Ange Postecoglou, an old acquaintance in order to talk through certain aspects of how Rogic is used throughout the month: “I know Ange. He’s a good guy,” said the Celtic manager. “I first came across him when we went with Liverpool to Australia and we played against his team in Melbourne before he became the national manager.
“There were 96,000 there in the MCG and he’s a big Liverpool supporter, so I had a good couple of days with him. I chatted with him, he has good ideas, he’s a good coach. We can speak about it and it is something that I trust Ange on with his work. He has other players there, Tom is one of them and I don’t think there is any drama in it.
“He’ll look to use him as much as he can, as well as being aware of where he’s at with his injury. We’ll see with Tom. We just need to look at that. He’s been out for quite a long time and back training. He’s come into the last couple of games and you can see the difference that he can make when he goes into the team. We’ll just monitor it between now and the end of the season.
“Tom is a very proud boy and wants to play for his country, of course. He has missed a large part of the season with a number of months out, so it could be the best thing for him to get a number of games.”