Given his stellar displays at the heart of the Owls’ midfield, Barry Bannan’s omission from the Scotland squad will come as a surprise to many people.
Performance director Malky Mackay, who has taken charge of the national team on a temporary basis following the departure of Gordon Strachan, has left Bannan and Steven Fletcher out of his squad to face the Netherlands next week.
There is no room either for Grant Hanley, Tom Cairney, Robert Snodgrass, Ikechi Anya or Chris Martin.
Should Bannan and company be concerned over being overlooked? Not in the slightest.
It is clear Mackay is using the glamour friendly against the Dutch on Thursday, November 9 at Pittodrie to experiment and give some of the next generation a chance.
There are eight uncapped players in Mackay’s squad and he has handed maiden call-ups to Ryan Christie, Paul Hanlon and Jason Cummings. After failing to qualify for the 2018 World Cup in Russia, the Scots are looking to rebuild.
Although Bannan takes great pride in representing his country, there maybe a little part of the 27-year-old that is happy to miss out on this occasion.
Bannan, who faces his old club Aston Villa tomorrow, has already racked up 19 appearances for club and country this season. He has started all of Wednesday’s Championship matches, playing 1,340 minutes. It has, to put it mildly, been a taxing workload for Bannan over the last three months.
But after the trip to Villa Park, Bannan will be able to put his feet up for a fortnight. It is probably the first time in years he and Fletcher have not had to travel over the international break to link up with their Scotland teammates. The travel and extra matches can take their toll on players over a gruelling 10 month campaign.
Wednesday boss Carlos Carvalhal may, privately, be pleased Bannan and Fletcher have not been selected in the Scotland squad. After the international break, Wednesday play three matches in a week, including two long away trips to Ipswich Town and Reading. Both Bannan and Fletcher will now be nice and fresh for those fixtures and it reduces the risk of them suffering from burnout later in the season.
Bannan has been the shining light in the Owls’ inconsistent season. No player has made more successful passes (962) than Bannan in the second-tier. In the absence of Fernando Forestieri, he is so often their creative spark. At present, Bannan is at the very top of his game and gives Carvalhal’s team some much-needed flair and guile in the centre.
He is an indispensable member of the squad and it is vital he remains fit and healthy if Wednesday are to secure a top-six finish for the third year in a row.