Leeds boss shocked as McCormack left out of Scotland squad

Ross McCormack in match action.
Ross McCormack in match action.
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ROSs McCormack’s international career has suffered another setback after Scotland coach Gordon Strachan omitted the striker from his squad to play Croatia next month.

The Leeds United forward was tipped to feature in the World Cup qualifier on June 7 but he was not among the 28 players chosen by Strachan yesterday.

Scotland’s new manager will take an experimental group to Zagreb for a fixture rendered meaningless by defeats to Wales and Serbia in March.

The Scots are bottom of Group A with just two points from six matches and Strachan’s pool included four players selected for the first time, among them Celtic’s 19-year-old striker Tony Watt.

Watt was one of four forwards called up by Strachan along with Wolverhampton Wanderers’ Leigh Griffiths – currently on loan at Hibernian – Blackburn Rovers’ Jordan Rhodes and Wigan Athletic’s Shaun Maloney.

Griffiths and Rhodes both cleared the 20-goal mark for their clubs this season while Watt scored six times in his first full year with SPL champions Celtic. McCormack, who claimed 19 goals for Leeds during the 2011-12 term, produced eight and criticised United’s Championship campaign as “a complete waste, both personally and for the team.”

The 27-year-old said he was “gutted” to be left out by Strachan but insisted: “I’m sure what I do next year for Leeds will have me back in there.”

United manager Brian McDermott also voiced his surprise, saying: “Going by how he played in the last few games of the season and the games I had as manager, I thought he’d have been involved.

“He’ll be disappointed, understandably, but it does mean that he can have a proper rest and come back fit and fresh for us. I’m surprised though.”

McCormack appeared to have re-ignited his international prospects after returning to the Scotland fold last August.

The former Rangers and Cardiff City player struggled for inclusion under former coach Craig Levein but his performances forced Levein to involve him in a friendly with Australia and McCormack scored in a 3-1 win at Easter Road.

Untimely injuries and illnesses have limited his involvement since, however, and he was unable to answer a call-up to Strachan’s first squad to face Estonia in February after contracting a virus in the week before the game.

A later summons for World Cup qualifiers against Wales and Serbia then fell foul of concussion suffered in a Championship clash against Peterborough United. McCormack was prevented from travelling after undergoing a brain scan.

But speaking in April, he said: “It’s nice to feel involved.

“I was disappointed to miss the games but I’d been out of picture for a while so it’s good to be in the manager’s thoughts again.”

McCormack’s absence will allow him a full summer break while four of United’s other players engage in international fixtures.

Sam Byram and Tom Lees have been called up to the England Under-20 and Under-21 squads respectively.

And Paul Green is part of he provisional group named by the Republic of Ireland for four summer matches.

Rodolph Austin’s involvement in Jamaica’s forthcoming World Cup qualifiers has been confirmed, meanwhile, following the announcement of their squad yesterday morning.

Austin’s first season at Elland Road was disrupted by an ankle injury suffered in November.

He is set to appear in clashes against Mexico, the USA and Honduras.

Austin will then fly home to start pre-season training with Leeds on June 27.

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