Are They Good Enough for Their Country?


Ever since Rangers’ expulsion
from the SPL, the club has become an incredibly sensitive and divisive subject
in Scottish football circles. One of the more ‘trivial’ issues, albeit a
nevertheless important one, is that of Rangers players playing for Scotland.
This subject in itself leads to a
wider debate; which Rangers players are good enough to play for their
countries, do play for their countries, and which ones just are not up to that
level of quality?
Let us begin in defence, and the
furthest back a team gets; its goalkeeper. Cammy Bell
has had a few call ups, during his Kilmarnock
days, and amassed a solitary cap. But in light of Allan McGregor being far and
away the first choice, with David Marshall and Matt Gilks in reserve, both of
whom play in England’s
Championship, Bell
is probably some way off further call ups. Furthermore with Partick Thistle’s Scott Fox earning a call up for the upcoming Scotland friendlies it pours cold water over the idea of Bell getting one any time soon.
Moving onto left back and without
a shadow of a doubt Rangers possess Scotland’s best left back in Lee
Wallace. Steven Whittaker has shown he is some way off the level required in
international football, despite plying his trade for a Premiership team, and
Wallace has now asserted himself in that slot – he would have featured against
Croatia recently but for injury ruling him out.
Over to right back, and given the
quite awful season Richard Foster is having, coupled with the fact he has never
been called up before, it is barely worth debating.
In the middle Lee McCulloch has
made himself available again for his country, but no longer gets invitations
from the national regime; his last appearance was almost 3 years ago and at his
veteran years it would suggest his time in a Scotland jersey is a thing of the
His defensive partner Bilel
Mohsni, a 26 year Frenchman, has never been called up at international level
under any age umbrella. His underwhelming career, despite his popularity at
Ibrox, would put paid to any notion of him ever featuring for Les Blues.
In front of them the plot
Ian Black, having a stellar
season at Ibrox after an indifferent inaugural one last year is a distinct
candidate now. He is unlikely to usurp Brown, Adam, Bannan, McArthur and the
like, but he could be used as a squad player and has proven with his passing
range and dead-ball delivery that he has decent distribution. However, after
his maiden cap during which the Tartan Army booed him, his selection would be a
taboo area.
His partner, Nicky Law, is
English, but like Mohsni has never featured at any level for his country.
Despite his impressive displays at Ibrox he is not going to earn a call up for
Roy Hodgson’s men. It is another one unworthy of discussion.
Out on the wing there is the
increasingly controversial David Templeton. Isolated this season, unable to
gain any momentum or match sharpness never mind form, Temps as he is known was
lauded widely when he joined Rangers from Hearts, portrayed as a great hope and
a lucrative signing. Sadly it has not worked out, and Templeton, despite his
unearned reputation, never even amassed a call up for Scotland in his
Gorgie days far less one from Govan. He did managed a few appearances at youth
level but the winger is 25 now and increasingly looks like a player unable to
achieve his potential. Or indeed, stay fit enough to allow it. He has neither
the form, consistency, or right to play for Scotland at the present moment.
Then there is Lewis MacLeod;
quietly going about his business and accumulating several youth caps for
Scotland U21’s. Right now he will find the senior team tough to break into for
the same reason Black does, but he has age on his side and could be a fixture
for Scotland
in the future. But not yet.
Then we have arguably our most
successful current international; Arnold Peralta, the Honduran enforcer who has
had an indifferent time at Ibrox but holds 17 caps for his nation and will feature
at next summer’s world cup in Brazil.
He has struggled slightly with manager Ally McCoist’s unorthodox wing position,
given his own natural berth is defensive midfield, but he manages to feature
alongside players like Izaguirre, Espinoza and Palacios. He is clearly doing
very well and Rangers can be proud to have a player at the world cup despite
being in the Scottish League One.
Up front Andy Little is little
more than a Northern Ireland
squad player. He has a reasonable number of caps, not quite 10, and has never
scored, but while his career is not overly impressive he does continue to be on
standby for his country.
Then there is Jon Daly; aged 30
and with decent experience for Ireland
at youth level, but Daly never made it to senior level and is very unlikely to
now. He has had an outstanding season so far at Ibrox, arguably McCoist’s
finest signing, or at least one of, but it is not probable that it will earn
him a call up given Ireland have a fairly decent pool of strikers to choose
Nicky Clark
is the last major name at Ibrox; the former QotS man had a staggering season
last year hence earning his move to Ibrox. He is slowly adapting to the demands
of Ibrox and at age 22 it is not beyond the realms of possibility he could earn
a call up to the national side albeit he would find earning a cap difficult
faced with Naismith, Rhodes, Fletcher et al.
Life in the ‘Second Division’
means that Rangers players are not prized by the national regime the way they
once were. But Gordon Strachan is doing a decent job and has shown willing to
call up Rangers players like Black and Wallace. Despite his Celtic past
Strachan is a reasonably fair individual as national boss, and it is not
impossible he will call up Rangers players again. Peralta and Little are probably
Rangers’ only other two senior internationals these days, but the day will come
again when Rangers players make up a significant portion of various countries
national teams.