Levein on lookout for star
Craig Levein is hoping to unearth another gem after his squad was hit with six withdrawals for Friday's friendly with Cyprus.
By William Esler
Last Updated: 08/11/11 1:27pm
Craig Levein is hoping to unearth another gem after his Scotland squad was hit with six withdrawals for Friday's friendly with Cyprus.
Jordan Rhodes of Huddersfield Town, Ryan Stevenson of Hearts, Gary MacKenzie of MK Dons and Craig Samson of St Mirren could all make their international debut in the game.
Barry Bannan was called into the squad for a friendly against the Faroe Islands last year and the Scotland boss has pointed to the emergence of the midfielder as justification for playing friendlies.
The 21-year-old shone on his full debut and became a key player in the latter half of Scotland's unsuccessful Euro 2012 campaign, although he was left out of the squad to face Cyprus because of his recent arrest on suspicion of drink-driving.
Levein said: "This time last year we got Bannan out of a friendly against the Faroes. There have been other situations where we've discovered players.
"So guys like Jordan Rhodes and others will hopefully step up to the plate here. Just seeing the guys in training makes a big difference.
"It also lets me see the mentality and how they cope with stepping into playing with international players in training.
"Some of them get a little bit overawed by it, others take to it immediately. It's important to see what they are like around the group. It gives me an opportunity to meet them, get to know them.
"There's a bit more time than just a couple of days and playing a game."
Gary MacKenzie, who moved from Dundee to MK Dons in 2010, was surprised by the call-up.
"I know I've been playing consistently well for about a year, but I didn't think I was close to getting a call-up.
"My gaffer Karl Robinson thinks highly of me and he told me he didn't think I'd be far away. But I still wasn't really expecting it. Sunday was one of the best days of my life."
Stevenson was equally shocked by his international chance.
He said: "When I first got the call I thought it was a wind-up. I was actually in shock because I had to basically down everything I was doing at the time and get to Mar Hall as quickly as I could.
"But it was a special moment for me and it's something I'll always remember. The thing is we've just moved into a new house and my wife was looking forward to me having a couple of days off to get everything finalised and sorted!
"But you wouldn't change being called up for Scotland for the world, would you?"