Craig Levein has said that he had one eye on the Scotland under-21s qualifying hopes when selecting his latest Scotland squad.
Levein revealed his selection for the end of season friendly against USA on Tuesday and left out Huddersfield Town striker Jordan Rhodes. He did include one Scotland Under-21 forward, calling up Dundee united’s Johnny Russell for the first time.
Rhodes still has club business this season, with Huddersfield aiming for a place in the league one play-off final. With Billy Stark’s Scotland Under-21 team also facing a crucial match against Bulgaria on May 31, Levein said he was managing demands on the prolific striker.
“Jordan has one important match or maybe more to play,” he said.
“What I didn’t want to do is take too many players from Billy’s squad when they have a great chance of qualifying.
“I know what Jordan can do. Once Jordan is finished with the Under-21s he will be a big player for us.”
Russell, who has scored 15 times for Dundee united this season, will be handed a chance to train with the senior players and show what he can do.
“I took Johnny this time because I feel he’s had a great season and he also covers a number of different positions which we have some problems in,” Levein said.
“Jordan’s very much in my thoughts and Under-21s qualifying is in my thoughts as well.”
Though Russell will also be joining the Under-21 squad for the Bulgaria match, Levein felt that helping the player develop with the full squad would be without risk.
“If there had been an issue with regard to timing then I probably wouldn’t have taken any of the Under-21 group,” he explained.
“We arrive back on Sunday and the Under-21s play on the Thursday.
“There will be enough time and I believe the benefits for Johnny will greatly outweigh the travelling difficulties."
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