Celtic trio have enhanced Scotland chances, says Stuart McCall

Gary Mackay-Steven, Stuart Armstrong and Scott Brown celebrate with Celtic
Gary Mackay-Steven, Stuart Armstrong and Scott Brown could team up for Scotland

Celtic's performances in Europe will boost the chances of Craig Gordon, Stuart Armstrong and Gary Mackay-Steven winning starting places with Scotland.

So said Scotland coach Stuart McCall as he looked forward to the 25 March friendly against Northern Ireland.

"When we get the likes of Armstrong and Mackay-Steven playing for Celtic in Europe, it benefits them as well," he said of Celtic's January signings.

"Not only playing in it but playing well and standing out in those games."

Former Hearts and Sunderland goalkeeper Gordon's performances have also been praised since he joined Celtic in the summer after nearly two years out of football through injury.

But, despite his 41 caps, the 32-year-old faces stiff competition from Hull City's Allan McGregor and Cardiff City's David Marshall if he is to regain his status as national number one under manager Gordon Strachan.

Asked if there was a difficult decision facing the Scots over the choice of goalkeeper for the friendly and Euro 2016 qualifier against Gibraltar, McCall said: "Thankfully I've not, but Gordon has.

"There were big decisions to make in the last squad, although Allan wasn't fit.

Craig Gordon, Allan McGregor and David Marshall
Craig Gordon, Allan McGregor and David Marshall are all vying for the goalkeeper's jersey

"Big Marsh has never let Scotland down. He's been terrific.

"Craig Gordon has obviously been playing at the top of his game and Allan McGregor's playing at the top level in England and has never let Scotland down either.

"Come the time, Gordon and Jim Stewart, the goalie coach, have got huge decisions."

Armstrong and Mackay-Steven have scored two goals apiece since joining Celtic.

The former hit the net against Inter Milan in the Europa League, while the latter scored in Sunday's 4-0 win over Aberdeen as the reigning champions extended their lead at the top of the Scottish Premiership to six points.

"When we played England, I think a lot of their players have been playing at the top level in England and top European football," pointed out McCall.

"Celtic have a strong squad, so for Stuart and Gary to maintain being first-team regulars, that will be an important factor as well.

"They have both got off to a great start and obviously Gary scored a terrific goal yesterday and both are playing with lots of confidence and it's great to see."

Meanwhile, McCall welcomed the appointment of former Celtic, Manchester United and Motherwell striker Brian McClair as Scotland's new performance director.

"Brian ticks all the boxes, especially for the job role he's got," he added. "He has great experience working at one of the top clubs in the world at Manchester United's youth academy.

"He knows Gordon and, after Mark Wotte leaving, it was a perfect appointment."

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