Scotland manager Gordon Strachan handed England-born Brighton midfielder Liam Bridcutt a surprise call-up to his squad for the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil™ qualifiers against Wales and Serbia.
Former Chelsea trainee Bridcutt, who qualifies through his Scottish grandfather and whose inclusion is subject to Scottish Football Association paperwork being completed, is highly-regarded by Strachan and his assistant Mark McGhee. Strachan and McGhee, a former Brighton manager, had watched Bridcutt closely for some time and are convinced the 23-year-old can make the step up from Championship football to the international stage.
"Liam is a guy I've been watching. I've seen a lot of his games," Strachan. "At the time I didn't realise he could possibly play for Scotland. Mark McGhee, who lives in the Brighton area, has seen a lot of Liam and he did his homework into the type of guy Liam was and did he want to play for Scotland. We've put that all together and we've come to the conclusion that he's good enough."
Meanwhile, Dundee United winger Gary Mackay-Steven and Hull winger George Boyd were also included in Strachan's first competitive squad as Scotland coach. Boyd, who is currently on loan at Hull from Peterborough, previously featured for Scotland B in 2009 but had never made a full squad.
Former Scotland U-21 international Mackay-Steven has returned to top form for United in recent weeks after an injury-hit first half of the season. "I've seen him a couple of times recently and he makes an impression on the game, that's for sure," Strachan said.
Southampton left-back Danny Fox has been recalled to the squad while there is no place for Rangers' Lee Wallace or Phil Bardsley, who has not played for Sunderland since January 19. In-form Hibernian striker Leigh Griffiths was not included but Chris Burke retains his place after Strachan handed him his first international cap in more than six years in the 1-0 friendly win over Estonia last month.
Scotland squad announced Thursday for the FIFA World Cup qualifiers against Wales and Serbia in Glasgow and Novi Sad on 22 and 26 March respectively:
Goalkeepers: Matt Gilks (Blackpool/ENG), David Marshall (Cardiff/WAL), Allan McGregor (Besiktas/TUR)
Defenders: Christophe Berra (Wolverhampton Wanderers/ENG), Gary Caldwell (Wigan Athletic/ENG), Daniel Fox (Southampton/ENG), Grant Hanley (Blackburn Rovers/ENG), Alan Hutton (Real Mallorca/ESP), Russell Martin (Norwich City/ENG), Charlie Mulgrew (Celtic), Andy Webster (Hearts)
Midfielders: Charlie Adam (Stoke City/ENG), Liam Bridcutt (Brighton and Hove Albion/ENG), Chris Burke (Birmingham City/ENG), Kris Commons (Celtic), Graham Dorrans (West Bromwich Albion/ENG), James Forrest (Celtic), Gary Mackay-Steven (Dundee United), James McArthur (Wigan Athletic/ENG), James Morrison (West Bromwich Albion/ENG), Robert Snodgrass (Norwich City/ENG)
Forwards: George Boyd (Hull City/ENG), Steven Fletcher (Sunderland/ENG), Ross McCormack (Leeds United/ENG), Shaun Maloney (Wigan Athletic/ENG), Kenny Miller (Vancouver Whitecaps/CAN), Steven Naismith (Everton/ENG), Jordan Rhodes (Blackburn Rovers/ENG)