SCOTLAND manager Alex McLeish says he doesn’t know if James McArthur will play for his country again after the Crystal Palace star asked not to be considered for selection.

The midfielder sat out the last international get-together as Scotland faced Belgium and Albania, and he has not been selected for this week’s double-header against Israel and Portugal at his own request.

The 30-year-old has been a regular for his club side in the English Premier League since the start of the season, but has cited a back issue as the reason he has not been available for the national side. And McLeish believes his priority is protecting his lucrative contract.

“James has ruled himself out. He didn’t say forever but he was feeling the strain from constant back pain and I think he’s been playing with a strapping on it,” said McLeish. “He signed a new deal with Palace and said that if he was required down the road he wasn’t saying he was quitting. But for the moment he’s decided not to play for us.

“It didn’t happen in our day. I’m not saying it’s about money, but these guys have multi-million pound contracts.

“I never retired - I’m still available! I had an injury and we qualified for Euro 92 and my last game had been Malta at Ibrox.

“Andy [Roxburgh] and Craig [Brown] invited me to the Euros as part of the group as a cheerleader as I was still injured. Then I was back playing with Aberdeen and wanted a call-up, but I never actually retired.

“I said that to Darren [Fletcher] - don’t ever retire. You just never know what happens.

“James clearly has a problem with his back, let’s not dispute that because it’s not fabrication. For him to get through a season of Premier League and cups…he’s out at the moment. It’s similar to Broony [Scott Brown]."