Scotland boss Craig Levein happy with striker options

Jordan Rhodes scored for Scotland in the friendly win over Australia

Craig Levein is happy with Scotland's attacking options as the coach continues to overlook Steven Fletcher.

The 25-year-old former Hibs striker became the most expensive Scottish player when he joined Sunderland in a deal that could be worth £14m.

But Levein will not consider Fletcher, who expressed his wish not to be selected ahead of a match in February 2011.

"I'm not worried about our goalscoring," Levein told R5 live.

"We're in a good place and I'm happy with the progress the squad has made.

"I've spent the last couple of years trying to increase the strength in depth we have and all those things are coming into line.

"Our scoring record has been good. It's not an area where we've got six £20m strikers that are sitting waiting for opportunities to play for Scotland, but we have scored a lot of goals.

"Kenny Miller has been fantastic for me and has scored a lot of goals."

Miller, 32, has scored 16 times in 60 international appearances and has been Levein's first pick for the lone striker role.

The former Celtic and Rangers forward has recently joined Whitecouver Whitecaps but has yet to score after five outings for the Canadian outfit.

Levein had earmarked Jamie Mackie to lead the line in this month's friendly with Australia, but the QPR man withdrew through injury, allowing Jordan Rhodes to mark his first international start with a goal in the 3-1 victory at Easter Road.

"I'm really excited about Jamie Mackie this year; I thought he was really good last season," continued Levein.

"I think he's improving: I love those players who start at the bottom and fight their way up.

"He's got himself into the Premier League and sees it as another challenge.

"I just want to create that competiton that keeps everybody on their toes. I think Jordan Rhodes scoring against Australia has certainly done that.

Kenny Miller has 60 Scotland caps
Miller is the most experienced striker in the Scotland squad

"When I look at who I select for the squad, you obviously have your first and second choice.

"If I'm picking my first choice, it's obviously going to be the best in that position, for various reasons: they're playing at the top level, their consistency is sitting up at seven-and-a-half or eight out of 10 every week; they play a lot of games and they've done well for me in the past.

"You put all these things together and you try to pick your squad. Playing at the top level, week in and week out is quite high on the list of criteria for playing international football."

Huddersfield's Rhodes will be playing in the Championship this season along with other forwards Levein has used: Craig Mackail-Smith, David Goodwillie and Ross McCormack.

Leeds United's McCormack was also on target against Australia, but Mackail-Smith has been troubled by a back injury over the summer and scored only 10 goals in 50 appearances for Brighton last season, while Goodwillie has been used sparingly at Blackburn.

A late call-up for Ian Black caused something of a stir and the midfielder was booed on his debut against Australia by a section of the crowd.

However, Levein suggested it may become increasingly difficult for him to select Rangers players.

"My logic is: if Rangers are playing in the Third Division, maybe it'll be a tapering off situation," he explained.

"Having played in the SPL last season, the drop off rate might not be much. But I think, over time, two years in the lower divisons aren't going to help any player step up from that level to international football.

"I made the point last week, it just becomes more difficult for them.

"There's only two players left at Rangers that I'd consider to be in my 40-man squad and that's Lee Wallace and Ian Black.

"Last year there was Steven Whittaker, Steven Naismith and Allan McGregor. Two of them are now plying their trade in the English Premier League and one is in the top league in Turkey.

"Rangers will provide other opportunities for the Scottish national team by giving young players the opportunity to play in the lower divisions and playing week-in, week-out; then playing in front of 40,000 fans at Ibrox, which is brilliant for them.

"That'll be a pipeline for young players coming through to the national team."

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