Belfast Telegraph

Home Sport Football

Back issue means McArthur is unavailable for Scotland

Crystal Palace midfielder rules himself out of international consideration.

Crystal Palace midfielder James McArthur has ruled himself out of consideration for Scotland for the time being, manager Alex McLeish confirmed.

The 30-year-old has played every minute of Palace’s three Premier League games this season but wants to rest a back problem during the international break.

McArthur, who has 32 caps, is absent from McLeish’s squad for a friendly against Belgium and UEFA Nations League opener against Albania next month.

James McArthur has ruled himself out of Scotland internationals because of a back injury (Danny Lawson/PA)

And the Scotland boss warned there were no guarantees the former Hamilton and Wigan player would return if his fitness issues clear up.

McLeish said: “I like James, I think he’s a terrific player, and it’s disappointing not to have him but he has some issues in his body.

“You hear a lot of players saying that when they get to a certain age, they know exactly what they need in terms of their fitness, and he has had some issues with his back, and he felt at the moment he can’t combine international football with the task of playing in the Premier League and cup games for Crystal Palace. So he has put his club first. They are the people who pay his wages.

James McArthur plays for Crystal Palace (Andrew Matthews/PA)

“It’s disappointing to lose him but it’s his personal decision. He has not said he has hung up his boots for Scotland but that’s the way he feels at the moment.

“He hasn’t put any date on it. He has just signed a new contract with Crystal Palace.

“I guess if we have got a winning formula without him, then it will be difficult for anybody to get back in.”

Alex Mcleish admits James McArthur’s news is disappointing for Scotland (Tim Goode/PA)

The likes of Newcastle’s Matt Ritchie and West Ham winger Robert Snodgrass are also missing from a largely youthful squad.

Hearts defender John Souttar is the only uncapped player after being promoted from the under-21s following injuries to Scott McKenna and Christophe Berra.

“He’s a good young player,” McLeish said. “I have assessed a few of the young players and I have seen quite a bit of Hearts.

John Souttar has made the right impression on Alex McLeish (Jeff Holmes/PA)

“He has started the season very confidently. He has now got the captain’s armband and his form has been pretty assured. I saw him last week at Dunfermline and he looked very composed and I thought it was time to give him a crack at coming into the squad.”

Kilmarnock full-back Stephen O’Donnell, Aberdeen midfielder Graeme Shinnie and Johnny Russell of Sporting Kansas City have retained their places following the summer trip to Peru and Mexico.


From Belfast Telegraph