Scotland assistant coach Peter Grant has defended the decision to ignore the record-breaking form of St Johnstone goalkeeper Zander Clark.
Clark made it five clean sheets in a row with his latest shutout against Hamilton Accies but that sparkling has not been enough to earn him a call-up.
Instead, Scots boss Alex McLeish selected both Kilmarnock’s Jamie McDonald and then Celtic’s second-string shot-stopper Scott Bain ahead of him for the Nations League double header.
That has caused considerable consternation at McDiarmid Park, with manager Tommy Wright particularly puzzled as to why his player has been ignored.
As the patched up Scotland squad trained in Edinburgh for the trip to Albania on Saturday and the following Tuesday’s home clash against Israel, Grant was not for giving any ground when asked by Courier Sport why Clark had been overlooked.
He also mentioned Saints’ match against the Hoops in Perth on October 7, when Clark and his colleagues lost six goals without reply.
The former Celtic midfielder said: “If we could pick everybody who is playing well we would be delighted.
“It’s football and you can only pick a certain amount of goalkeepers.
“Some players are playing really well in certain positions.
“For example, people talk about wide players – we have James Forrest, we have this, we have that – but it’s very difficult to push them in.
“We do have the two Celtic and Rangers goalkeepers (the injured Craig Gordon and likely starter Allan McGregor) and we think we’ve got top quality goalkeepers playing at the highest level in Europe at this moment in time.
“There are guys in the background and you have Bainy playing under pressure all the time because he is trying to push the number one out of his position (at Celtic).
“We see every game. We see all the boys who are playing well or exceptionally well.
“A couple of weeks you lose six or seven against Celtic, James Forrest gets four and you are crucifying the goalkeeper.
“You know how football changes.
“We are fortunate that we have goalkeepers playing really well but we though Scott was the right choice.”
Grant stressed that former Dundee keeper Bain did himself a lot of good by playing in goal for his country in the infamous trip to the Americas last summer.
Bain started against Mexico in a 1-0 loss and Grant added: “Scott was excellent and he would have stayed in the squad had he not had a slight issue with his shoulder.
“That is the reason he has not been in squads, to be perfectly honest with you.
“He has been able to rest because he has been predominantly on Celtic’s bench over that time.
“He did really, really well for us and we were really impressed with him in Mexico.
“So it would have been unfair on that boy as well (to not call him up).
“Even though he wasn’t playing for Celtic he was very much in the picture for us because of his performance and the way he went about his business in Mexico.
“Some guys came to fruition over there just by coming on the trip.
“Scott was excellent in everything he did.”
The injury woes continue for Scotland, with late call-up Ryan Jack of Rangers calling off with an unspecified injury.
There is also a major doubt over Aberdeen defender Mikey Devlin.
That means Gordon, Charlie Mulgrew, Stephen O’Donnell, Kevin McDonald and now Jack are all absentees, with Devlin expected to follow them today.
Manager Alex McLeish confirmed: “Ryan is out. He played the whole game for Rangers and unfortunately he picked up an injury.
“It is one of these things that happens which is why we wait late on the Sunday because of the Sunday games.
“That is unfortunate for Ryan, getting (back) into the Rangers team, obviously he has something to offer the squad in so many different positions.