Under-21 International Challenge Match
Greece v Scotland
Wednesday, 6th February 2013, kick-off 3pm (local time)
Municipal Stadium, Korinthos
Scotland Under-21 coach Billy Stark has named an 18-man squad for next week’s friendly match against Greece.
There are four new faces in the squad as Scotland continue their preparations for the UEFA European Under-21 Championship 2013/15 qualifiers which could start as early as March.
Partick Thistle duo Stephen O’Donnell and Stuart Bannigan have been rewarded for their fine form in the SFL first division and there is also a place for Kilmarnock forward Rory McKenzie.
First-choice goalkeeper Jordan Archer, on loan at Wycomble Wanderers from Tottenham Hotspur, has been omitted with Wycombe playing a league match on Monday night, so Celtic’s Robbie Thomson has an opportunity to impress.
Stuart Armstrong, Rhys McCabe and Tony Watt return to the squad after missing the 3-2 friendly defeat to Portugal in November through injury.
The draw for the UEFA European Championship qualifiers takes on Thursday morning in Nyon with Scotland in pot two. Details of the draw can be found here…
Stark said: “This is a preparation game and it might be our last opportunity before a potential qualifier in March. We need to make sure we’re ready and Greece will present us with a good test.
“I’ve left out Jordan Archer from this squad as he is involved in a match with his club on Monday night but it gives us an opportunity to look at a third goalkeeper in Robbie Thomson who has been involved in the international youth squads before.
“Stephen O’Donnell and Stuart Bannigan have been playing really well for Partick Thistle this season so they also have a chance.
“I’ve also included Rory McKenzie who has been with us at under-19 level and acquitted himself quite well. We’ve been monitoring a number of strikers and giving one or two a chance and he gets the opportunity for this one.
“We have a wee nucleus of players with experience at this level from the last campaign in guys like Stuart Armstrong, Rhys McCabe and Tony Watt so there is a bit of continuity there which will stand us in good stead. There are other players in the squad like Lewis Toshney and Clark Robertson who have good first-team experience at their clubs.
“Kenny McLean is another player who would have been involved but he is just coming back from injury and some surgery in his knee so it didn’t make sense to include him from the point of view of his club.
“Looking ahead to the championship draw on Thursday, it’s pleasing we have moved up to pot two but that doesn’t ensure we are going to get a good draw as it’s difficult to win any international game.
“I’m excited about the draw because it’s so uncertain and you’re always keen to see who you’re going to be pitting your wits against. The one thing we can be sure of though is that it’s going to be tough whoever we get.”
Scotland Under-21 squad:
Christopher Kettings (Blackpool)
Robbie Thomson (Celtic)
Kieran Duffie (Falkirk)
Fraser Kerr (Birmingham City)*
Kevin McHattie (Heart of Midlothian)
Stephen O’Donnell (Partick Thistle)
Clark Robertson (Aberdeen)
Lewis Toshney (Celtic)** - withdrawn
Murray Wallace (Huddersfield Town)
Stuart Armstrong (Dundee United)
Stuart Bannigan (Partick Thistle)
Fraser Fyvie (Wigan Athletic) - withdrawn
Jason Holt (Heart of Midlothian)
Rhys McCabe (Sheffield Wednesday)
Stefan Scougall (Livingston) - withdrawn
Dylan McGeouch (Celtic)
Rory McKenzie (Kilmarnock)
David Smith (Heart of Midlothian)*** - withdrawn
Tony Watt (Celtic)
* on loan to Motherwell
** on loan to Dundee
*** on loan to Raith Rovers