Fraser form has winger back in Scotland favour

Ryan Fraser last played for Scotland in a win away to the Faroe Islands in October 2021

Scotland head coach Steve Clarke dismissed doubts about Ryan Fraser’s commitment and said the winger’s return to form is why he is back in the squad for September’s Nations League matches.

Fraser made himself unavailable last November, a decision for which he later apologised.

The 28-year-old pulled out citing an injury, but was pictured at Newcastle United training the following day.

“There was no process with Ryan,” Clarke said of Fraser’s return.

“I said in March, when he missed the two friendly matches we had a chat.

“Ryan wasn’t playing for Newcastle and I said at the time if he was fit and available and playing well for Newcastle he’s definitely one we have to consider for selection.

“That’s why he’s in the squad this time – because he’s fit and available and playing well.”

Captain Andy Robertson is missing through injury, after Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp revealed the left-back would not be fit until October.

Clarke says it is “disappointing” to be without Robertson, but said the return of Kieran Tierney from injury “softens the blow”.

The Scotland boss added: “Andy’s a key player, captain and a big character for us within the squad. But as you lose a top quality left-back you get another one back with Kieran being available this time.”

Scotland play home and away against Ukraine (21st and 27th) and at home to the Republic of Ireland (24th).

After beating Armenia home and away, Clarke’s side currently sit second in Group B1, one point behind Ukraine and two points in front of the Irish despite being humbled 3-0 in Dublin.

“I’ve always said it’s a squad that’s progressed well over my tenure,” Clarke said.

“If I’m being honest about it June was the first time I felt as though we stopped. Now we have to pick up the mantle and start progressing again through these three difficult matches.

“We’ve got our destiny in our own hands, that’s all you can hope for.”

Uncapped Hibernian defender Ryan Porteous is called up, with Rangers centre-half John Souttar and Leeds captain Liam Cooper sidelined.

Lewis Ferguson is absent after playing just six minutes so far for Bologna in Serie A, while Billy Gilmour, Jack Hendry and Anthony Ralston do make it despite a lack of game time this season.

Midfielders Ryan Jack and Kenny McLean are back from long-term injuries, but Sunderland striker Ross Stewart is out with a thigh problem.

Rangers goalkeeper Jon McLaughlin, who won the last of his two caps in 2019, returns now that he is no longer understudy to Allan McGregor at Ibrox.

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