Allan McGregor’s retirement a blow for Scotland, admits Alex McLeish

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Scotland manager Alex McLeish admits he tried to change Rangers goalkeeper Allan McGregor’s mind about retiring from international football.

Scotland manager Alex McLeish admits he tried to change Rangers goalkeeper Allan McGregor’s mind about retiring from international football.

The 37-year-old announced his decision on Monday, ahead of Scotland's Euro 2020 qualifier double-header against Kazakhstan and San Marino later this month.

McLeish admits his retirement is a blow for Scotland but says he was not completely surprised by the decision.

Allan McGregor has called time on his Scotland career
Image: Allan McGregor has called time on his Scotland career

"It is obviously a blow for us. Allan has been in great form this season for club and country," McLeish said.

"I kind of knew this day would come. I have kept in touch with Allan for a year now, since he came back into the fold.

"I knew in Hull he had some ailments and some problems. I always wondered when the day would come that we might lose him. It was amicable.

McGregor retires from Scotland duty

McGregor retires from Scotland duty

Allan McGregor retires from Scotland to focus on Rangers

"He knows his body now. He obviously wants to play as much club football as he can and try and keep himself right for that but he is suffering in certain parts of his body at this stage of his life."

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Asked if there was an attempt to change McGregor's mind, McLeish revealed: "Of course there was, aye. We said we would try and manage it. Could he play one game? Can we do something to help? We wanted to help him.

"I gave him a couple of days to think about it and he has come back with the same answer so sadly we lose him."

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With Craig Gordon carrying an injury, Celtic's Scott Bain, Jordan Archer of Millwall and Sunderland's John McLaughlin were the three goalkeepers selected in the squad to face Kazakhstan and San Marino.

McLeish said: "It is an opportunity for one of the goalkeepers to go and excel and show they can become an international goalkeeper on a regular basis, the way McGregor has done and the way Craig Gordon has done in the past."

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Charlie Mulgrew was also included despite picking up a hamstring playing for Blackburn Rovers against Preston North End last weekend.

"We have got a good feeling about Charlie. Charlie always puts himself on the line. He is very confident that he is going to play," McLeish said.

Scotland's game against Kazakhstan will take place on an artificial pitch.

Ryan Fraser in action for Scotland in the Nations League
Image: Ryan Fraser will not be risked against Kazakhstan

McLeish revealed Cardiff City's Callum Peterson and Bournemouth's Ryan Fraser will play no part in that match as Scotland have an agreement with those two Premier League clubs that their players will not be risked on an artificial surface.

"Two players won't play - Callum Paterson and Ryan Fraser," McLeish revealed. "This is part of an ongoing agreement between club and country and they are not going to play on the astro turf.

"They will not travel to Kazakhstan. They will meet up [with us] in San Marino."

Mark McNulty has impressed for Hibernian
Image: Mark McNulty has impressed for Hibernian

Hibernian striker Marc McNulty, who is on loan from Reading, has earned his first Scotland call-up after five goals and two assists for in six appearances for Hibs.

He joins Oli McBurnie, Oliver Burke and Johnny Russell as the forward options amid the absence of the likes of Leigh Griffiths, Steven Fletcher and Steven Naismith.

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Alex McLeish says Hibernian striker Marc McNulty offers Scotland 'versatility' up front with Steven Fletcher not in the squad.

McLeish said: "We are short in that department. Obviously there is an injury to Steven Fletcher who led the line superbly in the last two games and he has been putting himself out there for Sheffield Wednesday every week.

"He came back from an eight-month absence from a knee injury and he is feeling things a little bit.

"He is going through a spell of playing in nearly every game. The previous manager did not play him in every game. He managed his time a little bit differently but Steve Bruce obviously feels he is very, very important to Sheffield Wednesday's plans, as he was to us.

"But that sometimes happens and we have to try and cover that with as good a player as we believe can do that.

"McNulty is a good hold-up player. Hi is different from McBurnie and Oli Burke so that gives us a little bit of versatility."

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