Strachan: Celtic game sealed McLean call-up for England clash

Praise: Gordon Strachan and Kenny McLean

Dons midfielder Kenny McLean sealed his return to the Scotland squad with a star performance in their recent league clash with Celtic.

McLean and Pittodrie team-mate Mark Reynolds received a boost ahead of Saturday’s Scottish Cup final by getting included in the national squad to face England at Hampden in a World Cup qualifier.

The uncapped Jamie Murphy is also back in Gordon Strachan’s group after helping Brighton win promotion to the Premier League.

But there is no space for Callum McGregor, however, despite the in-form Celtic midfielder being tipped for a call-up for the clash,  on June 10.

McLean, whose sole Scotland cap came in a friendly against the Czech Republic last year, had a strong finish to the campaign and Strachan was impressed by the 25-year-old during Aberdeen’s recent 3-1 defeat by Celtic at Pittodrie.

The Scotland manager said: “I’ve seen Kenny recently in a wonderful game, the Aberdeen-Celtic match, the best 45 minutes of football I have seen this season. And the 90 minutes were terrific. And throughout that Kenny had an excellent game.

“And the results at Aberdeen have been fantastic. They have had a good, strong finish to the season.”

Former Motherwell winger Murphy has previously had one late call-up and his achievements with Brighton helped him earn a recall.

Jamie Murphy
Jamie Murphy

“We thought about that the last game, people who were feeling good about themselves,” said Strachan, whose side kept their qualification hopes alive with a 1-0 win over Slovenia in March. “They bring that positivity to the squad.”

On McGregor’s exclusion, Strachan added: “I think everyone knows that’s where we are strong, and that’s where you need to be strong these days.

“There is a lot of other midfield players that I have seen recently that you would think, if it wasn’t so strong, they would be in the squad as well. Kevin McDonald at Fulham has had an excellent season. A lot of lads in that area are just unfortunate we are very, very strong in that area, which showed in the last game against Slovenia, we were strong and full of enthusiasm and know-how in there.”