Dundee United striker Lawrence Shankland still has a chance of reporting for Scotland duty.
Shankland was called up by national coach Steve Clarke for the forthcoming Nations League games against Israel and the Czech Republic despite missing the last four of his club’s league fixtures because of an ankle injury.
He has an outside chance of playing for the Tangerines tomorrow against Kilmarnock at Rugby Park, with manager Micky Mellon saying he is “moving through the gears.”
The Scots face the Israelis in a week’s time at Hampden then take on the Czechs in Olomouc the following Monday.
The ideal scenario for Mellon is that his player is fit for Killie then he can go and happily report for international duty.
But even if he doesn’t make it at Rugby Park, talks will still be held between Mellon and Clarke to decide whether he can join the Scots.
Mellon said: “It is great for Lawrence and his family and all the rest of it but it’s also great for the football club that we have international players here.
“To get that recognition at that kind of level is great for all the players.
“It shows we are heading in the right direction.
“It is something that we want to do – produce Scottish internationals. That’s surely what a club of this size with its history should be doing.
“We are really pleased for Lawrence.
“His performances lately have been faultless, haven’t they?” joked the United manager, in reference to Shankland’s lack of time in tangerine this season, before revealing that Clarke got in touch before the call-up to ask for his input.
“I know Steve from long before he was the Scotland manager. I know him very well and have a really good relationship with him.
“He phoned me about Lawrence and I explained the situation and what he was up to. Steve was still quite keen to get him.
“First and foremost we want to make sure he is ready for Dundee United so where it will go to is a day-to-day thing.
“I can’t give you an answer about where we will be next week or whatever because he just improves day to day.
“Both me and Steve have an understanding that we will speak and then there will come a time when we have to make a decision as regards: ‘Is he available or not for Scotland?’
“We still have a few days before that time.”
Asked what stage Shankland was at in his recovery, Mellon replied: “If the game were today it would probably be a wee bit too early for him.
“But he has improved since yesterday – does that make sense?
“He is improving all the time. I don’t want to get too cryptic here but he is rapidly moving through the gears.
“Early on in the week he was doing straight line running but now he is doing zig-zag running, multi-directional.
“So he is now at a place where he might be able to come onto the grass with the players in training.
“His fitness levels are good anyway so we will see where we end up before we make any decisions.”
Mellon shot down a suggestion that Kilmarnock’s plastic pitch might be a factor in his selection of Shankland.
The Tannadice boss declared: “I’ve never been one of those people who think 4G is molten lava and that it is something to be terrified of. I have never been that way.
“If he is fit and available then he would come into our thinking for being part of our playing squad.
“You have to play on these surfaces and I don’t know where the excuses come from.”
As well as being well acquainted with Clarke, who was such a success at Rugby Park before moving to Hampden, Mellon is keen to meet up with current Killie boss Alex Dyer.
“I’ve known Alex for a long time as we did our pro-licence together in England,” said the United manager.
“We played them in pre-season and I have watched a lot of them.
“They have plenty of experience so we know it’s going to be tough going down there.
“Kilmarnock won’t be happy with the results they have got this season so far but their performances have been good.
“A lot of Scottish football has been down to bits of detail and their games have turned on those details.
“They are an experienced team and have good players so we know it’s going to be a difficult game.”