Dom Howson’s Sheffield Wednesday column: It is baffling and inexplicable that Barry Bannan continues to get ignored by Scotland

Barry Bannan has not featured under Scotland boss Alex McLeish
Barry Bannan has not featured under Scotland boss Alex McLeish

He has a wand of a left foot and is playing some of the best football of his career.

Barry Bannan has been one of the standout performers in the Championship this season, but the gifted midfielder continues to be overlooked at international level.

It is a mystery why Scotland boss Alex McLeish, who has overseen six defeats in the eight matches of his second spell in charge of the national team, has not included Bannan in the last couple of squads. It is baffling and inexplicable.

Bannan has 27 caps but he has not featured under his former Aston Villa chief McLeish.

“I’ve not been selected for any of the games since the new Scotland manager came in and replaced Gordon Strachan," said Bannan.

“It’s his [McLeish's] decision, isn’t it? He has to decide on the players to take the country forward and I can’t complain about that.

“It’s just about his opinion, at the end of the day.

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“Right now I’m concentrating on my club football and making sure I’m playing as well as I possibly can."

Bannan has excelled for Wednesday. His club manager Jos Luhukay challenged the 28-year-old to take on increased responsibility as one of the senior players in the squad over the summer. Luhukay called on Bannan to lead from the front.

Bannan has risen to the challenge, weaving his magic in the midfield engine room. He has even added goals to his game, finding the back of the net in spectacular fashion against Millwall and Stoke City.

Bannan has been instrumental in Wednesday climbing into the play-off positions. His impressive form warrants a call-up.

Yet McLeish has picked the likes of Kevin McDonald, John McGinn and Stuart Armstrong ahead of Bannan. McDonald and Armstrong have not been pulling up any trees for Fulham and Southampton in the Premier League respectively. McGinn has thrived in the second-tier but has he performed better than the wee man Bannan?

Scotland are struggling and McLeish is a man under pressure. He needs to quickly arrest their slump to save his job. Surely you would go for experienced players who have done the business at domestic level?

Bannan must be wondering what more he has to do be selected. McLeish should already know what the midfield dynamo has to offer and what he can bring to the team, having previously worked with Bannan.

It is not just Bannan who continues to get ignored by his country. Sheffield United star John Fleck should also have racked up multiple caps by now for Scotland.

There are some peculiar selection choices being made by the Scots hierarchy, but Wednesday won't be overly disappointed with the situation. They are reaping the benefits of a fresh, hungry Bannan. Scotland's loss is most definitely the Owls' gain.

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