One look at the Scotland squad from Steve Clarke and something astonishing is apparent – of the 24-man squad the NT boss selected, only four players ply their trade in Glasgow.
Just Ryan Jack, James Forrest, Ryan Christie and Callum McGregor make the final group, and for a country who used to survive on the healthy input of Old Firm players, it marks a number of key issues and concerns.
Ibrox Noise takes you through what this means for Rangers, Celtic, Scottish football and the NT.
It doesn’t mean a lot for Rangers, really. We’ve had a horrific relationship with the SFA for long enough, and we’re only just getting back now to the Rangers we should be. We’ve certainly lacked high-quality Scottish players for some time, and the few we’d have proposed previously (Halliday, McCrorie to name but two) are either no longer at Ibrox or are probably not really good enough in truth.
But it does mean a lot for Celtic in conjunction with us. That only four Scottish players of both clubs’ squads of well over 30 (so roughly 60+ players) are considered good enough is a horrific indictment of both clubs’ failure to bring through quality youth players through their ranks, and, crucially, hold onto them if they do.
In recent years we’ve had the promising Barrie McKay and Lewis Macleod at Ibrox, before both got sold for buttons down south, while Celtic have reared a number of players before shipping them down south for big money. Kieran Tierney is an obvious example.
But when we look back to 12 years ago, and the last Scotland that was good, it was filled with a glut of Old Firm players, especially Rangers, and only just missed out on a place at Euro 2008:
Gordon, Hutton, Weir, McManus, Naysmith, Brown, Fletcher, Hartley, Ferguson, McCulloch, McFadden.
7 Old Firm players in this line up v Italy, with a further two on the bench. Gordon of course went on later to star for Celtic.
Now? It’s likely the three Celtic players called up will all play, as may Jack, but that’s not even half the players of years ago.
Instead the NT is filled with League One and Championship players, with just 3 from Scottish clubs outside Rangers, and Kilmarnock make up two of those.
The Scottish game is truly in the pits in terms of quality and standard, even if, ironically, it’s become genuinely entertaining in recent years with the return and rise of Rangers, and a new level of measurement and the change in the league since 7+ years ago before Rangers’ fall.
But either way, the Old Firm simply aren’t doing enough to rear quality young native talent, nor enough to hold onto the few they do develop.
And, we guess, neither are the majority of the rest of the SPL either.