Scots eye joy in English football - and Euro 2016

By Clive LindsayBBC Sport
Andrew Robertson
Robertson became part of the Scotland squad last season

With Scotland's major clubs struggling both financially and to compete in the latter stages of European competition, success at an international level depends on the export of emerging talent to a more challenging environment.

And for most, life beyond their own shores for Scottish players tends to mean England.

When Gordon Strachan chose his last squad for a competitive fixture, against Croatia in October, 11 players were plucked from the Barclays Premier League, nine from the Championship and one from League One.

Only two forced their way in from the Scottish Premiership - Celtic pair Scott Brown and Charlie Mulgrew - while Lee Wallace came from eventual League One champions Rangers.

Stevie May
Stevie May will hope to transfer his St Johnstone scoring form to Sheffield Wednesday

So, when Norwich City suffered relegation, taking three key members of Strachan's squad with them, while Derby County's five-strong Scottish enclave lost in the promotion play-off final, it looked like the national manager would have fewer English top-flight performers at his disposal for the forthcoming Euro 2016 qualifying campaign.

When the Premier League kicks-off on Saturday, there will be 28 Scotland-eligible senior players - one fewer than last season - contracted to top-flight clubs.

That is six fewer than from the Republic of Ireland and seven more than from Wales, with Scots being the fourth most common "foreign" players in Premier League squads behind the Irish, French and Spanish.

Discounting development players, forwards Stephen Dobbie and Paul Gallagher, who have been loaned out to lower league clubs by Crystal Palace and promoted Leicester City respectively, and midfielder Jamie Ness, loaned to Crewe Alexandra by Stoke City, about 18 Scots have a chance of making their club's first teams.

Midfielders Scott Arfield and Ross Wallace have taken the step up along with promoted Burnley, who have also recruited goalkeeper Matt Gilks from Blackpool.

Winger Matt Phillips also returns to the Premier League along with Championship winners QPR.

Midfielder Robert Snodgrass remains in the top flight after switching for £6m from relegated Norwich to Hull City, who have also bought defender Andy Robertson from Dundee United for nearly £3m.

Another promising left-back, Stephen Kingsley, was sold by Falkirk to Swansea City.

Scott Arfield
Scott Arfield could push for a first Scotland cap now he is in the top flight with Burnley

Unfortunately for Strachan, new Manchester United vice-captain Darren Fletcher and Everton forward Steven Naismith apart, the Premier League's Scots are all likely to find themselves battling once more at the wrong end of the table.

To make matters worse, midfielder Barry Bannan has been on the periphery at Crystal Palace, as has Wallace, who has one cap, with Burnley.

On the plus side, right-back Alan Hutton, frozen out for two years at Aston Villa because of high wages, has been told he is back in manager Paul Lambert's plans for this season.

The progress of uncapped Arfield, in particular, will have tweaked Strachan's interest given the 25-year-old's key role in Burnley's revival and rise to prominence since switching to Turf Moor from Huddersfield Town.

Meanwhile, Robertson should blossom further provided the twice-capped 20-year-old makes the first team at Hull.

Many more Scots ply their trade in England's second tier, although the 51 in Championship first-team squads is also one less than finished there last season, with a couple having already made an impact for new employers.

Scotland winger Chris Burke scored for Nottingham Forest at the weekend after a summer move from Birmingham City, while Scotland Under-21 midfielder Tom Cairney found the net in his Blackburn Rovers debut after exiting Hull.

Striker Craig Mackail-Smith signalled his return from injury with a goal for Brighton & Hove Albion in their midweek Capital One Cup win over Cheltenham Town and midfielder Paul Caddis scored for Birmingham City in their win over Cambridge United.

Former Partick Thistle left-back Aaron Taylor-Sinclair made his debut for Wigan Athletic, whose Scottish contingent has swelled to six with midfielder Don Cowie's switch from relegated Cardiff City, in their shock midweek cup exit by Burton Albion.

Meanwhile, the latest to join the exodus south, striker Stevie May, will hope to start his Sheffield Wednesday career against Derby County after his weekend sale by St Johnstone.

Ross McCormack's dream of a move to the Premier League failed to materialise and instead the striker has the burden of having to live up to the biggest transfer fee involving a Scot this summer - £11m for his switch from Leeds United to relegated Fulham.

Down in League One, former Livingston striker Marc McNulty opened his Sheffield United account in the midweek cup win over Mansfield.

There are 24 Scots in first-team squads in England's third tier this season, 11 fewer than at the end of the last campaign, with 15 in League Two, three more than in May.

However, it is to England's top two tiers from which Strachan will be looking to recruit the backbone of his squad when the Euro campaign gets underway against Germany on 7 September.

The problem for the national boss is that most of the Premier League Scots are operating in midfield and few in defence and up front.

Premier League

Aston Villa: Alan Hutton, defender

Burnley: Scott Arfield, midfielder; Ross Wallace, midfielder; Matt Gilks, goalkeeper (from Blackpool)

Crystal Palace: Barry Bannan, midfielder; Chris Kettings, goalkeeper (from Blackpool); Stephen Dobbie, forward (on loan to Fleetwood Town)

Everton: Steven Naismith, forward; Matthew Kennedy, midfielder (on loan to Hibernian).

Hull City: George Boyd, midfielder; Allan McGregor, goalkeeper; Andrew Robertson, defender (from Dundee United, £2.85m); Robert Snodgrass, midfielder (from Norwich City, £6m). Out - Tom Cairney, midfielder (to Blackburn Rovers, undisclosed fee)

Leicester City: Paul Gallagher, forward (on loan to Preston North End)

Manchester United: Darren Fletcher, midfielder

Queens Park Rangers: Coll Donaldson, defender; Matt Phillips, midfielder

Stoke City: Charlie Adam, midfielder; Phil Bardsley, defender (from Sunderland); Jamie Ness, midfielder (on loan to Crewe Alexandra)

Sunderland: Liam Bridcutt, midfielder; Steven Fletcher, forward. Out - Phil Bardsley, defender (to Stoke City);

Swansea City: Jay Fulton, midfielder; Adam King, midfielder; Stephen Kingsley, defender (from Falkirk, undisclosed fee)

Tottenham Hotspur: Jordan Archer, goalkeeper (on loan to Northampton Town)

West Bromwich Albion: Graham Dorrans, midfielder; James Morrison, midfielder. Out - Scott Allan, midfielder (to Hibernian)

No Scots: Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, Newcastle United, Southampton, West Ham United.


Birmingham City: Paul Caddis, midfielder; Denny Johnstone, forward (from Celtic, undisclosed fee); Andrew Shinnie, midfielder. Out - Chris Burke, midfielder (to Nottingham Forest)

Blackburn Rovers: Tom Cairney, midfielder (from Hull City, undisclosed fee); Craig Conway, midfielder; Grant Hanley, defender; Jordan Rhodes, forward. Out - David Goodwillie, forward (to Aberdeen)

Blackpool: Gary MacKenzie, defender. Out - Kirk Broadfoot, defender (to Rotherham United); Barry Ferguson, manager/midfielder (to Clyde); Chris Kettings, goalkeeper (to Crystal Palace); Matt Gilks, goalkeeper (to Burnley)

Bolton Wanderers: Kevin McNaughton, defender (on loan from Cardiff City)

Bournemouth: Ryan Fraser, midfielder. Out - Richard Hughes, midfielder (retired)

Brighton & Hove Albion: Gordon Greer, defender; Craig Mackail-Smith, forward

Cardiff City: David Marshall, goalkeeper; Kevin McNaughton, defender (on loan to Bolton Wanderers). Out - Don Cowie, midfielder (to Wigan Athletic); Simon Lappin, midfielder

Derby County: Craig Bryson, midfielder; Paul Coutts, midfielder; Craig Forsyth, defender; Chris Martin, forward; Johnny Russell, forward

Fulham: Cameron Burgess, midfielder; Mark Fotheringham, midfielder (from Notts County); Jack Grimmer, defender; Ross McCormack, forward (from Leeds United, £11m)

Huddersfield Town: Liam Coogans, forward (from Airdrieonians, undisclosed fee); Paul Dixon, defender; Murray Wallace, defender

Ipswich Town: Christophe Berra, defender

Leeds United: Out - Ross McCormack, forward (to Fulham, £11m)

Middlesbrough: Andy Halliday, defender

Norwich City: Cameron King, midfielder; Russell Martin, defender; Ewan McNeil, defender; Steven Whittaker, defender. Out - Robert Snodgrass, midfielder (to Hull City, £6m).; Thomas Grant, defender (to Falkirk)

Nottingham Forest: Chris Burke, midfielder (from Birmingham City); Danny Fox, defender; Jamie Mackie, forward (on loan to Reading)

Reading: Jonathan Henly, goalkeeper (on loan to Maidenhead United); Jamie Mackie, forward (on loan from Nottingham Forest)

Rotherham United: Kirk Broadfoot, defender (from Blackpool); Michael Tidser, midfielder. Out - Scott Shearer, goalkeeper (to Crewe Alexandra); James Noble, midfielder

Sheffield Wednesday: Chris Maguire, forward; Stevie May, forward (from St Johnstone, £800,000); Rhys McCabe, midfielder; Liam Palmer, defender

Watford: Ikechi Anya, midfielder; George Byers, midfielder; Alex Jakubiak, forward (to Oxford United on loan)

Wigan Athletic: Gary Caldwell, defender; Don Cowie, midfielder (from Cardiff City); Fraser Fyvie, midfielder; Shaun Maloney, midfielder; James McArthur, midfielder; Aaron Taylor-Sinclair, defender (from Partick Thistle). Out - Stephen Crainey, defender (to Fleetwood Town)

Wolverhampton Wanderers: Kevin McDonald, midfielder

No Scots: Brentford, Charlton Athletic, Leeds United, Millwall.

League One

Barnsley: Iain Turner, goalkeeper; Martin Woods, midfielder

Bradford City: Out - Jon McLaughlin, goalkeeper (to Burton Albion)

Bristol City: Out - Liam Kelly, midfielder (to Oldham Athletic); Stephen Pearson, midfielder; Joe Bryan, midfielder; Louis Carey, defender

Chesterfield: Liam Cooper, defender

Colchester United: James Bransgrove, goalkeeper

Coventry City: John Fleck, midfielder; Jim O'Brien, midfielder; Danny Swanson, midfielder; Stuart Urquhart, defender; Andy Webster, defender. Out: Lewis Rankin, midfielder

Crewe Alexandra: Fraser Murdoch, forward; Scott Shearer, goalkeeper (from Rotherham United). Out - Bradden Inman, midfielder

Doncaster Rovers: Paul Quinn, defender

Fleetwood Town: Stephen Crainey, defender (from Wigan Athletic); Stephen Dobbie, forward (on loan from Crystal Palace); Stewart Murdoch, midfielder

Leyton Orient: Scott Cuthbert, defender

Milton Keynes Dons: Out - Matthew Kennedy, midfielder (return to Everton after loan)

Notts County: Out - Callum McGregor, midfielder (return to Celtic after loan); Malcolm Melvin, midfielder

Oldham Athletic: Liam Kelly, midfielder (from Bristol City). Out - Gary Harkins, midfielder (to Dundee)

Port Vale: Chris Robertson, defender

Preston North End: Paul Gallagher, midfielder (on loan from Leicester City)

Sheffield United: Neill Collins, defender; Ryan Flynn, midfielder; Bob Harris, defender; Stephen McGinn, midfielder; Marc McNulty, forward (from Livingston, undisclosed fee); Jamie Murphy, forward; Stefan Scougall, midfielder.

Swindon Town: Out - James McEveley, defender

Yeovil Town: Out - Jamie McAllister, defender

No Scots: Barnsley, Bradford City, Bristol City, Crawley Town, Gillingham, Milton Keynes Dons, Notts County, Peterborough United, Rochdale, Scunthorpe United, Swindon Town, Walsall, Yeovil Town.

League Two

Accrington Stanley: Tom Aldred, defender; Kal Naismith, forward

Burton Albion: Alex MacDonald, midfielder; Jon McLaughlin, goalkeeper (from Bradford City). Out - Zander Diamond, defender (to Northampton Town)

Cambridge United: Tom Bonner, defender; Richard Tait, goalkeeper

Carlisle United: Mark Beck, forward. Out - Greg Fleming, goalkeeper (to Celtic Nation), Lee Miller, forward (to Kilmarnock)

Mansfield Town: John Dempster, defender

Northampton Town: Jordan Archer, goalkeeper (on loan to Northampton Town); Zander Diamond, defender (from Burton Albion); Gregor Robertson, defender

Oxford United: Alex Jakubiak, forward (from Watford on loan)external-link

Southend United: Out - Marc Laird, midfielder (to Tranmere Rovers)

Tranmere Rovers: Marc Laird, midfielder (from Southend United)

Wycombe Wanderers: Steven Craig, forward

No Scots: Bury, Cheltenham Town, Dagenham & Redbridge, Exeter City, Hartlepool United, Luton Town, Morecambe, Newport County, Plymouth Argyle, Portsmouth, Shrewsbury Town, Southend United, Stevenage, Wimbledon, York City.

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