Belfast Telegraph

Scotland always has to come first, says boss Levein

Craig Levein will adopt a hard-line approach when it comes to players turning up when picked for Scotland duty.

The Scotland boss named his 23-man squad yesterday for next Wednesday's friendly against Sweden in Stockholm then revealed he had been asked to leave some players out due to club commitments.

Reports claimed Cardiff City manager Dave Jones made a personal phone call to Levein to request that his keeper, David Marshall, be left out to play in a Carling Cup tie against Burton on the same night.

Middlesbrough's boss Gordon Strachan, whose side take on Chesterfield in the same competition just 24 hours before the Scotland game, will also be hampered after the Scotland manager called up Kevin Thomson, Barry Robson, Kris Boyd and Stephen McManus.

Levein is sympathetic to the plight of his managerial colleagues but is adamant that while he is in charge of Scotland, country has to come before club.

“I have had requests for players to be allowed to be allowed to call off because there are games on the Tuesday night,” he said.

“But the international date has been in the calendar for a long time, the Championship chose to schedule Carling Cup games for the Tuesday night.

“I am asking for the players to be available for one game prior to the start of the Euros.

“They can't not come because of club commitments.

“I have a degree of sympathy, of course, with managers who want to have their best players available for these games.

“But my allegiances lie only with Scotland and I've got to do what is right and I also have to do what I think is fair. I can't allow some teams to have players call off because they have a game on and not allow others.

“So in the interest of fairness to everybody and what I think is best for the national team, then all the players will be called up.”

The former Hearts and Dundee United boss claimed to be “relaxed” about the fact he will weaken Strachan's side.

He said: “Gordon is very patriotic as well. They are over in Germany just now and I have tried to make contact but it hasn't been easy.

“But I am relaxed about it and I think that Gordon is as well.

“As an international manager you want to accommodate people but in this situation it is impossible for me.”

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