Steve Clarke has told the current group of Scotland players they can make themselves “almost undroppable” for next month’s crucial Euro 2020 play-off final against Serbia.
The manager was speaking ahead of his team’s Nations League matches against Slovakia on Sunday night and Czech Republic on Wednesday.
The national team, who have just confirmed the call-up of Ross McCrorie, go into the Slovakia match on the back of a play-off semi-final win over Israel on Thursday.
Clarke said: “The group of players who are here now have the chance to make themselves almost undroppable. That is the first point on that one.
“Looking ahead to next month, all the players who are not in the squad this time have to do everything they can in their power to make sure they are fit and playing as well as they can to make my selection process as hard as possible.
“So there is an incentive for them as well.”
Clarke’s squad had been depleted before the Israel match, with Ryan Christie and Kieran Tierney instructed to self-isolate after Stuart Armstrong tested positive for Covid-19.
Liam Palmer, Scott McKenna and Oliver Burke also missed out with injuries.
But Clarke drafted in Hibernian’s Paul McGinn and Aberdeen’s Andrew Considine, before McCrorie’s addition was confirmed on Saturday.
Of Dons’ midfielder McCrorie, who scored in the under-21s’ 2-0 win against Czech Republic on Friday night, Clarke said: “Ross played last night for the under-21s but I had already sort of pre-empted the fact that if he came through OK, which he did, he would come to join the squad and he is in a good place.
“He has done very well for Derek (McInnes) in Aberdeen in central midfield but he can also play at the back and he can play right-back, so he is good cover.”
The manager was also full of praise for 33-year-old Considine and 29-year-old McGinn, neither of whom have been capped.
Clarke said: “Andy Considine is Mr Steady. He has had a great club career at Aberdeen, a one-club man.
“I think in my time at Kilmarnock we were involved in 10 games against Aberdeen so I got to see him up close and personal, seven out of 10 every game he plays.
“Although he hasn’t been involved in international level before he has the experience to handle the situation.
“Paul McGinn is obviously in a position (right-back) where we are a little bit light in numbers at the moment. A couple of good young ones coming through but not quite ready for it yet.
“Paul is another one who has done the hard yards, came from Queen’s Park and worked his way up. He is probably having the best season of his career so far.
“I spoke to Jack Ross (Hibs manager) about him and he was very praiseworthy of Paul and he deserves his chance in the squad.”