ALEX McLeish is confident Sir Alex Ferguson is recovering well from a brain haemorrhage – after being wound up by his former Aberdeen manager about his bad passback in the 1983 European Cup Winners’ Cup final.

McLeish has been in contact with Sir Alex’s family since the Glaswegian was taken into hospital in Manchester for emergency surgery nine days ago and revealed he has been in good spirits.

He sent the the 76-year-old a message on the 35th anniversary of the Pittodrie club’s famous win over Real Madrid in Gothenburg last week – and received a cheeky dig about his performance that night in return.

The centre half underhit a passback to Jim Leighton with his team leading 1-0 through an early Eric Black goal and the goalkeeper brought down Santillana to gift the Spaniards a penalty which Juanito scored from.

Sir Alex, who retired as Manchester United manager in 2013 after winning 38 trophies in 26 years, at Old Trafford has been moved out of intensive care and is continuing his rehabilitation as an inpatient at Salford Royal Hospital.

“We are obviously very close because of our working time together,” said McLeish. “We have kept in touch over the years. We have been kept up to speed by his young boys.

“When it was the anniversary of Gothenburg last week I texted Mark, the oldest one. I said: ‘Tell the gaffer happy Gothenburg day!’ He texted back and said: ‘You’ll never believe it, I’m in the hospital with him right now. He’s asking about your passback!’ I said: ‘Typical! What about my assist for Eric Black?’”

McLeish was speaking after naming his 24 man Scotland squad for the end-of-season friendlies against Peru in the National Stadium in Lima on Tuesday, May 29, and Mexico in the Azteca Stadium in Mexico City on Saturday, June 2.

He has only named three Celtic players – centre half Jack Hendry, midfielder Stuart Armstrong and winger Lewis Morgan – because his Parkhead counterpart Brendan Rodgers is keen for his players to rest before they return for pre-season training to prepare for important Champions League qualifiers in mid-July.

But he revealed that several English-based players – Liverpool left back Andy Robertson, Robert Snodgrass of Aston Villa and James McArthur of Crystal Palace among them – and Christophe Berra of Hearts had all been left out due to allow them to recover from a draining campaign.

“We agreed on concessions for some players, not all Celtic players either, but others too in England,” said McLeish. “I think we had to apply a bit of common sense.”

“A lot of the English based guys haven’t been playing, so it’s much more difficult to include guys when they’re not playing But James McArthur has been playing, Snoddy has been playing, and I’ve had chats with these guys over a period of time. They’re still integral to our thoughts. They have not been bombed out.

“Again, for James, he’s been struggling for a while now and not been training between his games. They had a fight against relegation and we decided not to use him in these last games. He has been seeing a doctor as well.”

“While we want to do what’s best for Scotland, I think this is the best course forward to look at the more important games to come.

“No. I spoke to Kieran Tierney at a dinner on Sunday night and told him it was important we had him raring to go for the Euros. He’s still a boy who is in the throes of his growing. The other Celtic players are a bit older, like Forrest and McGregor.

“But Tierney has played a lot of football for a boy at 20. I’ve seen examples in the past when a lot of young players have played a hell of a lot of football and end up finishing their careers quite early. You’d think Kieran will have a fantastic international career ahead of him, as have a lot of the younger ones."