Scotland: Stuart Armstrong, Ryan Fraser & Tom Cairney called up

Stuart Armstrong
Stuart Armstrong scored in Celtic's 1-1 draw with Rangers on Sunday

In-form Celtic midfielder Stuart Armstrong has been called up to the Scotland squad by Gordon Strachan.

Bournemouth's Ryan Fraser, fellow midfielder Tom Cairney of Fulham and West Brom winger Matt Phillips are also included.

It is a first call-up for Fraser and Cairney, with recalls for keeper Allan McGregor and striker Jordan Rhodes.

Scotland host Canada in a friendly on 22 March, then Slovenia in a World Cup qualifier on 26 March.

Celtic midfielder captain Scott Brown, who reversed his decision to retire from international football last year, is also included.

There is no place in the squad for the likes of Graeme Shinnie and Kenny McLean of Aberdeen, who had been strongly tipped to make the cut.

Armstrong, capped 20 times by the Under-21s, has scored 11 times for Celtic this season, eight times since the start of December.

Fraser, 23, has been in excellent form for Bournemouth in recent months and Cairney, 26, has impressed for Championship side Fulham.

And boss Strachan believes the trio will add "freshness" to the squad.

Ryan Fraser has been in excellent form for Bournemouth since breaking into the first team
Ryan Fraser has been in excellent form for Bournemouth since breaking into the first team

"Up until four or five months ago, they (Stuart and Tom) played wider and I always thought both would be better central," he said.

"Since then, they have moved to central positions and similar positions and done very well.

"I saw both players over the weekend. Stuart scored his goal yesterday, he had five shots, five on target.

"He is now using his assets. He has great fitness. He plays players he is up against out the game. He is getting goals, so he is leaving a footprint.

"Tom Cairney was the best man on the pitch at St James' Park (a 3-1 win for Fulham), but that was no surprise - he has been the best man on the pitch on many occasions - and Ryan is doing very well at Bournemouth.

"He is keeping out some good players, some high-value players at Bournemouth with his ability and work rate and he played very well at the weekend."

Rhodes had been left out of recent squads after failing to command a starting place at Middlesbrough but is now playing regularly on loan with Sheffield Wednesday.

"Jordan's playing and he scored a couple of goals the other week there - one was a great cross from Barry Bannan," said Strachan.

"There's an opportunity for Jordan to be in the squad because, at the moment, if you look at our strikers, there's quite a few of them not really playing regularly, but Jordan's played the last five or six games and looked comfortable in his new surroundings."

Scotland squad

Goalkeepers: Gordon (Celtic), Marshall (Hull City), McGregor (Cardiff City, on loan from Hull City)

Defenders: Berra (Ipswich Town), Mulgrew (Blackburn Rovers), Hanley (Newcastle United), R Martin (Norwich City), Robertson (Hull City), Tierney (Celtic), Wallace (Rangers)

Midfielders: Anya (Derby County), Bannan (Sheffield Wednesday), Brown (Celtic), Armstrong (Celtic), Burke (Leipzig), D Fletcher (West Brom), Forrest (Celtic), Cairney (Fulham), Fraser (Bournemouth), McArthur (Crystal Palace), McGinn (Hibernian), Morrison (West Brom), Phillips (West Brom), Ritchie (Newcastle United), Snodgrass (West Ham United)

Forwards: S Fletcher (Sheffield Wednesday), Griffiths (Celtic), Naismith (Norwich City), C Martin (Fulham, on loan from Derby County), Rhodes (Sheffield Wednesday, on loan from Middlesbrough)

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