WHEN it comes to the subject of football players and their international allegiances, Steven Reid is as relaxed as you might expect from a man who has essentially been an Englishman, then an Irishman and now an honorary Scotsman.

But one thing is absolutely

non-negotiable for this 38-year-old from Kingston-upon-Thames, who played his youth football for his native England then won 23 caps for the Republic. Not to mention his managerial mentor Steve Clarke.

Whoever the player is and ­whatever the backstory that makes him eligible for Scotland, there has to be a willingness to buy in wholeheartedly to the cause. Assuming that red line is met, whether it is central defender Steven Caulker moving on from his one full England cap to represent the country of his grandmother Jessie’s birth or talking Lyndon Dykes into playing for the country of his parents’ birth rather than his one, then so be it.

It only serves to emphasise the point that our next opponents Russia just happen to have co-opted two talented Brazilians into their ranks.

“I don’t think it’s an issue,” said Reid. “Players are at the stage now where individuals have so many options and nationalities they can choose from that no-one sees it as a problem.

“Even the stronger nations, ranked higher than us, have done it,” he added. “England have done it with Declan Rice, who has decided to switch from the Republic of Ireland. Ultimately, if they fit, if they’re ­playing well and they show willingness, that’s great.

“If there is no willingness there, then that’s the problem. Because there needs to be an excitement and an enthusiasm to join the squad. There has to be that willingness there to go out and deliver on the pitch. You want the situation with Steven, who has made the call to declare a possible availability. That’s what you’re after.”

In any case, Reid’s own playing experience tells him that doesn’t automatically follow that the purebloods intrinsically give more to their country. “It was the same for me when I was in the Ireland squad. I played for England Under-16s and then went in to the Irish set-up for the Under-21s.

“I was playing in the Premier League with Blackburn and West Brom but it was never in the back of my mind that I might have had a chance elsewhere,” he added. “I made my decision, I

was proud of that decision and so

were my family. I look back at that time and some of the England players I played with didn’t enjoy going

away for England but I had a fantastic experience with Ireland and played in a major tournament.”

If each Scotland squad gathering finds players at various different points on their journey, Reid has sympathy with Ryan Christie, whose early-season form was instantly forgotten on Sunday when he was sent off for a dangerous, mis-timed lunge on Scott Robinson. An entirely out-of-character moment, Christie made the decision to take himself off social media as a result, and it all struck a chord with the Scotland assistant manager.

“That’s the benefit, I suppose, of having played at that level,” said Reid. “I had five red cards myself. I got

sent off on my debut for Blackburn. I came on as a sub and got sent off

10 minutes later.

“Graeme Souness was the manager and he said he would have been more annoyed if I didn’t go in like that. Those are experiences that I’ve had.

“Listen, it [Christie’s challenge] was rash. It was probably the right decision. But these setbacks happen. It’s how you react to it, how you go again. I’m sure he wants to make it up to the team.

“It was a forward’s challenge, if you like. That sometimes happens. In a way, the way he trained this morning, the two games we’ve got coming up, it might give him an edge to go out there and do the business for us.

“As for social media at the back end of my career, it was just starting to take off and I had to personally take it off my phone. We were in a relegation dogfight with West Brom and for a period of time I just completely took it off because I didn’t really see any benefit to it at the time.

“It’s obviously great to interact but I see more and more instances now of abuse. After an incident like that, you are going to come in for some abuse online. It’s just whether you can deal with that. Whether you need it or not, that’s another discussion.”

Christie isn’t the only member of this Scotland squad who was showing up well in training yesterday. Lawrence Shankland might have drawn a blank at the Indodrill Stadium in Alloa on Friday night in Scotland’s second tier, but he was showing the sharpness in training yesterday that suggests he would seem a reasonable bet to hit the target for the first time for his country, at least against San Marino on Sunday evening if not in Moscow on Thursday night.

“He’s obviously been prolific and started the season really well,” said Reid. “His call-up also gives an opportunity for others. They might look at it and see they have a chance as well.

We are covering games all over Scotland and England so it might give one or two a bit of a boost. If you are delivering then you have a chance. He hit the ground running this morning. He was fantastic. I know it was just the first, light-ish training session, but he was straight in, scoring a few goals and looking confident.

“It’s not with a view to maybe playing against San Marino,” Reid added. “It’s just he’s next on the list to be monitored and he’s there on merit. The manager has told all the boys who have

come in due to injuries that this

is their chance, go and grasp it with both hands.

“It took me a few games to find my feet when I broke

in to the Ireland

squad,” he added. “But you have to start somewhere.

“I tell the guys – just go for it. You never know, you get a couple of chances, a few goals, and then all of a sudden you have a player.”