Alex McLeish tells club managers they won’t get to withhold key players for Euro fixtures
Alex McLeish has vowed to ‘lean on’ club managers to make sure key players are released for Scotland’s Euro 2020 campaign.
Having secured the bonus of a play-off spot already through the Nations League route, Scotland kick off the regular qualifiers for next summer’s finals in March.
An away double-header against Kazakhstan and San Marino will be vital for McLeish’s side in a group also featuring Cyprus, Belgium and Russia.
Scotland plan to take the seven hour flight to Kazakh capital Astana on the night of Sunday, March 17.
Earlier that day Celtic – with at least seven stars likely to be in the Scotland reckoning – are involved in a league clash at Dundee. That same afternoon skipper Andy Robertson will be in Liverpool’s team at Fulham as they chase a first English title in 29 years.
The next domestic fixture for Celtic after the international double-header is the potentially decisive Old Firm league derby against Rangers on March 31.
But McLeish wants his top stars with him for the gruelling trip to Kazakhstan and San Marino and will stress that to protective club bosses in the next few weeks.
Ahead of the March 21 and 24 qualifiers, he said: “The Nations League is a bonus – we are really concentrated on the upcoming Euros.
“Again I would lean on the club managers to realise that the players are going to be called up from their clubs and it’s a massively important phase for us.
“We feel that if we get every player that is available to us that we want in the squad then obviously that increases our chances.”
McLeish was lenient with club managers over player availability when he first took charge and it came to arranging friendly games.
A tour to Peru and Mexico in summer 2018 saw him go with basically a ‘B’ squad.
But now the real action is kicking off, McLeish is putting Scotland first.
He said: “We lost a lot of the Celtic players and a few from England, we made concessions with the club managers and I said, look, when we go to competition I’ll be looking to get these guys freed up, playing for Scotland.
“To be fair, I’ve been to see the managers and they have been excellent at releasing the players to play for the national team which, to me, should be the footballers dream.”