HomeSportsScotland: Scott McKenna and Grant Hanley out of squad for Netherlands and...

Scotland: Scott McKenna and Grant Hanley out of squad for Netherlands and Northern Ireland friendlies

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Scott McKenna has withdrawn from the Scotland squad ahead of the friendlies against the Netherlands and Northern Ireland.

His exit follows fellow defender Grant Hanley’s departure from the group earlier this week, however, boss Steve Clarke has not called up any replacements.

McKenna – who is on loan at FC Copenhagen from Nottingham Forest – has been struggling with an injury since joining up with the group.

Hanley, however, only returned to the international fold for the first time in a year after recovering from an achilles problem that sidelined him from April to December last year.

The 32-year-old has made nine appearances for Norwich since returning to action on Boxing Day but missed their last two games with an ankle injury that forced him off against Middlesbrough earlier this month.

Assistant John Carver admits Hanley’s lack of recent game time for Scotland is a worry but remains hopeful that the injury-plagued defender can prove his fitness in time for Euro 2024 – having last played for the team in March 2023.

“It is a concern because he’s one of our squad,” said Carver. “But it’s up to Grant to get fit again and make sure he’s okay.

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Scotland assistant John Carver insists players can still stake a claim in Steven Clarke’s Euro 2024 squad by impressing in their friendlies against the Netherlands and Northern Ireland

“That’s one of the reasons he’s stayed behind to work with the people at Norwich. It’s important he’s in good condition.

“If he gets himself fit and starts playing again, there’s no reason why he can’t get back into this squad.”

TBILISI, GEORGIA - NOVEMBER 16: Scotland's Scott McKenna in action during a UEFA Euro 2024 Qualifier between Georgia and Scotland at the Boris Paichadze Dinamo Arena, on November 16, 2023, in Tbilisi, Georgia. (Photo by Craig Williamson / SNS Group)
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Scott McKenna picked up a knock playing for Copenhagen

Scotland are also without key duo Callum McGregor and Aaron Hickey who were not named in the squad as they recover from their respective injuries.

Brentford wing-back Hickey has been sidelined since late October with a hamstring problem and, like Hanley, appears to be in a race against time to be fit.

“They’re saying he could be around two or three weeks before he’s back training with Brentford, so we’re waiting for that final medical report to find out where he is,” said Carver.

“You’ve got that situation with Aaron but there are other players too. It’s a difficult time for everyone because they’re all coming towards the end of their seasons with their clubs, playing competitive games, and we’ve just got to keep our fingers crossed that we don’t have too many injuries going into the championships.”

Scotland have selected four goalkeepers – Hearts pair Craig Gordon and Zander Clark plus Norwich’s Angus Gunn and Motherwell’s Liam Kelly – for this month’s double-header but Carver refused to divulge how game time will be carved up among the quartet, with one of them set to miss out on the final Euros squad.

“That will be down to Steve and who he selects but what it [having four goalkeepers] has added is a huge amount of competitiveness,” he said.

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Scotland boss Steve Clarke discusses his selection of in-form duo Lewis Ferguson and Lawrence Shankland in his squad for March’s friendlies

“We saw that yesterday [Monday] in training because every single one of them was right on it.

“Normally the first day they ease their way in but we had a small-sided game towards the end of training and the four goalkeepers were outstanding.”

Carver has been impressed with the way Hearts forward Lawrence Shankland has played his way into contention after being called up as a late replacement for Che Adams in November. Since then, the 28-year-old has scored a stoppage-time equaliser in Georgia plus 17 more goals for his club.

“I think he’s been great,” said Carver. “I’ve watched quite a bit of Hearts lately. He just gets himself in the right areas. People talk about, ‘he doesn’t do this, he doesn’t do that’, but he scores goals and they’re worth their weight in gold.”

Scotland squad in full

Goalkeepers: Zander Clark (Hearts), Craig Gordon (Hearts), Angus Gunn (Norwich), Liam Kelly (Motherwell)

Defenders: Liam Cooper (Leeds United), Jack Hendry (Al-Ettifaq), Nathan Patterson (Everton), Ryan Porteous (Watford), Anthony Ralston (Celtic), Andrew Robertson (Liverpool), John Souttar (Rangers), Greg Taylor (Celtic), Kieran Tierney (Real Sociedad)

Midfielders: Stuart Armstrong (Southampton), Ryan Christie (Bournemouth), Lewis Ferguson (Bologna), Billy Gilmour (Brighton), John McGinn (Aston Villa), Kenny McLean (Norwich), Scott McTominay (Manchester United)

Forwards: Che Adams (Southampton), Lyndon Dykes (Queens Park Rangers), Lawrence Shankland (Hearts)

Scotland’s Euro 2024 warm-up matches

March 22: Netherlands (a), friendly, kick-off 7.45pm

March 26: Northern Ireland (h), friendly, kick-off 7.45pm

June 3: Gibraltar (n), friendly, kick-off TBC

June 7: Finland (h), friendly, kick-off 7.45pm

Who do Scotland face at Euro 2024?

Following the next set of friendlies against Gibraltar and Finland, Scotland will head to their Euro 2024 base camp located in the Bavarian resort of Garmisch-Partenkirchen on June 9.

Clarke’s side kick-off the tournament’s opening match against hosts Germany at the Allianz Arena on June 14.

The Scots also face games against perennial qualifiers Switzerland and Hungary, who reached the knockout stages in 2016.

Scotland

Scotland have history kicking off tournaments, having been drawn to face Brazil in the opener at World Cup 1998, a game they narrowly lost 2-1 to a second-half Tom Boyd own goal.

This time they begin at the Allianz Arena before facing Switzerland in Cologne on June 19, with Hungary awaiting in Stuttgart on June 23.

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