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McLeish challenges new Scotland faces to seize opportunity

The Scotland boss says he wants his new call-ups to step up to the challenge.

Change: McLeish has revamped the Scotland squad.
Change: McLeish has revamped the Scotland squad. SNS Group

Scotland manager Alex McLeish has challenged his new call-ups to prove themselves at international level and help work towards Euro 2020 qualification.

McLeish named his squad for the upcoming friendlies against Costa Rica and Hungary, calling up nine uncapped players and six who haven't been in the senior squad before.

The manager acknowledged he had made changes for the first matches of his second spell in charge and said players had to seize the opportunity by bringing club form into the international set-up.

"It is a fresh start," he said. "I know there's a couple of experienced players not in the squad but I know what they can do and I wanted to look at some other players.

"It's a couple of friendly games. It doesn't mean we'll play friendly but I certainly want to look at players who have been doing well for their clubs.

"It's a great opportunity. They've been doing well for their clubs and that's why you get picked for your country, ultimately.

"We just want to see them come in and, if they're capped for the first time, then it's a great honour but we want to see them playing the way they do for their clubs and challenge themselves to become even better.

"The ultimate goal is obviously qualification."

McLeish said he hadn't yet settled on a captain for his side and revealed that he had delayed announcing his squad until after the weekend's Premiership fixtures to help him make some decisions. One beneficiary was Hibernian's Dylan McGeouch, who is among the fresh additions to the squad.

The manager said he had wanted to see the midfielder in the flesh before settling on a call-up.

"First impressions are often the lasting ones, if you use the old cliché," he said. "I thought he had a really good game. You like what you see.

"In the past, in club football, when scouts have recommended a player to me I've always had reservations because I like to see them with my own eyes.

"Sure enough, sometimes I've signed a player and you've sanctioned the chief scout to do it, on the training ground you think 'Oh, I don't know if I would have chosen him'.

"I do like to witness a player with my own eyes and I've seen a lot of football over the last couple of weeks, as I have in the last couple of years watching games in England. Working abroad as well, I've watched a lot of football."

McLeish also revealed with three outstanding left-backs to choose from in Kieran Tierney, Andrew Robertson and Barry Douglas in his squad, he wouldn't press the Celtic star into service at right back unless absolutely necessary. However, he said that Tierney may end up playing in central defence.

"I can't play the three of them but certainly we can find a solution," he said. "You have to play your best players and I'm sure we can find a solution.

"He had a smashing game up at Aberdeen when Malky Mackay took the team and he didn't look out of place in the centre-back position."

He also addressed questions about the goalscoring potential of the team, saying he expected contributions from throughout the side.

"That's the challenge," he said. "That's the challenge for the new kids on the block.

"We do have goalscorers in a lot of the midfielders. Obviously McGregor has got himself a few and Tom Cairney at Fulham has rattled in a few over the last couple of seasons. You'll be looking for these guys to complement the strikers.

"We're not just looking for the strikers to score goals, we want guys throughout the team to score. Callum Paterson has banged in a few at Cardiff.

"We do have goals there and it's just about harnessing it in the national team."

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