Levein clears up confusion

Craig Levein moved to clarify the apparent contradiction regarding Ian Black's inclusion for Scotland's clash with Australia.

Last Updated: 14/08/12 at 21:00   

Ian Black: Included in the squad

Ian Black: Included in the squad

Craig Levein moved to clarify the apparent contradiction surrounding Rangers midfielder Ian Black's inclusion in his squad for Scotland's friendly against Australia at Easter Road on Wednesday night - after he left out Lee Wallace due to the Ibrox club playing Third Division football this season.

The Scotland boss said last week when he announced his squad that it was difficult for him to pick players from the fourth tier of Scottish football.

Eyebrows were subsequently raised when Black, who signed for Rangers this summer after leaving Hearts at the end of last season, was drafted into the squad on Sunday night following the withdrawal of James Forrest, Jamie Mackie, Graham Dorrans and Phil Bardsley.

Levein, who confirmed Huddersfield striker Jordan Rhodes will make his first start and is hoping to give Blackpool keeper Matt Gilks his debut at some point, explained his decision at the pre-match press conference.

"My quotes are there for everyone to see," he said. "What happened is that some people chose to take half a quote and use that.

"It is fairly straightforward. What I said when I announced the squad is that it will be more difficult for the Rangers players to get into the international team because the standard in the Third Division isn't akin to international football.

"That is what I said and also, that the door wasn't closed on any of the Rangers players.

"We had some problems in midfield. Ian Black would have been with us to America (for the May friendly) if he hadn't been injured, so I brought him in.

"He is not a first choice, he is in as back-up and for me it's a fairly straightforward decision to make.

"We will possibly (see him in action) depending on how the game goes.

"He was Hearts' best player last year, he was also exceptional in the cup final, he would have played at some point in America so yes, you might see him."

Levein looked to draw a line under what he believes to be "perceived negativity" surrounding Black's inclusion.

"Lee Wallace has never been the first choice left-back, Ian Black isn't the first choice midfielder, no disrespect to either of them," he said.

"But as I said, I will pick who I think is first in line then pick my second choice and third choice, that's the way it works.

"What I don't want to do, which seems to happen, is concentrate on one perceived negative story.

"This has been done to death as far as I am concerned.

"We have a lot of positive things happening and I would far rather talk about those than, no disrespect, a player that has been brought in as back-up."

However, Gary Caldwell, who will captain the team tomorrow night, took an opposite view, was at odds with his boss, claiming that players should be picked on their ability.

The Wigan defender said: "All these players were playing in the Premier League two months ago, and they're not Third Division players.

"To tag them that is very disrespectful. They are good players.

"I think each player should be given the respect they deserve."

Levein is looking to make amends for the 5-1 defeat by the USA in Jacksonville at the end of the season, which elicited heavy criticism despite it being only a friendly.

This is the last time the Scotland boss will have his players together before the start of their 2014 World Cup qualifying campaign which begins next month with a double-header at Hampden against Serbia and Macedonia.

"I discovered very quickly in this job that everybody reads everything into results so yes, of course, the result is important for us," said the former Hearts and Scotland defender.

"Our last result was a poor one so I would like to win the game.

"One of the frustrating things about this job - win or lose - is the time span between games. "We have had to wait a while since America and it will be great to get back on the field and play."

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