Alex McLeish is officially the new Scotland manager – and work will immediately start on getting the country to its first major tournament since 1998.
The job has been vacant since Gordon Strachan left the role in October last year, with the national team’s failure to make the World Cup causing him to go.
And even though McLeish might not be the choice of many to take the job, he is the choice of the SFA – and has a big job on his hands.
Change is needed in the squad so here are six players we believe the national team can be built around in the coming years:
John Souttar – Hearts
There’s somewhat of a centre back crisis in Scotland, but Souttar could be the man to solve it if he keeps playing like he has recently. Hearts have one of the best defensive records in the league since Craig Levein’s appointment and Souttar is learning massively from partnering Christophe Berra at the heart of the Jambos defence. Hopefully he can kick on and become a better player than the Scotland international. He’s at the right age and has all the talent to do it – McLeish should give him the chance.
Ross McCrorie – Rangers
McCrorie’s form for Rangers this season makes him a certain inclusion in the next Scotland squad if he’s fit. As a quality centre back and midfielder, it’s a no-brainer for young talent like this to play a big part in the national team moving forward. That’s something McLeish needs to do. He could maybe even be a partner for Souttar in the long term?
Kieran Tierney – Celtic
Tierney’s emergence was one of the positive points of Strachan’s tenure in charge and his continued presence in the national squad has to continue under McLeish. He could even become captain if Scott Brown decides to call it a day during the new manager’s time in control. Simply, Tierney has to play somewhere in the team and it’s up to McLeish to figure out where that is given the presence of some other quality Scottish left backs.
Andy Robertson – Liverpool
If Tierney gets the left back spot, Robertson has to get a place elsewhere and vice versa. Right now, he’s playing at the highest level of any Scotland international and his form at Liverpool means he isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. Just like the rest on this list, he’s at the right age to feature prominently for Scotland for the next five to 10 years so it makes sense for McLeish to make him a core part of the squad.
Callum McGregor – Celtic
McGregor’s emergence at Celtic over the last year was impressive – but somehow Strachan didn’t think he merited at least a regular squad spot. That should definitely change under McLeish. The Hoops midfielder’s brilliant display in the 1-0 win over Zenit last night shows exactly the type of quality he could offer Scotland in the final third and that should make him a permanent fixture in the squad and team under the new boss. Scotland’s lack of a quality number 10 has been evident for years – maybe McGregor is the man to step up and fill that role.
Leigh Griffiths – Celtic
Scotland simply don’t have any better strikers than Griffiths – and he has to become the talisman for the country. He’s shown it at Celtic and, most significantly, stepped up to the plate towards the end of the last campaign. At 27, Griffiths is a goalscorer Scotland can rely on for the next two or three qualifying campaigns. He’s arguably the most important player of them all for McLeish.