Sheffield Wednesday: Barry Bannan lifts lid on international prospects as Scotland campaign takes further hit
Sheffield Wednesday playmaker Barry Bannan fears he has been frozen out of international contention after he was left out of the Scotland squad for their defeats to Russia and Belgium.
The 29-year-old midfielder, who’s most recent of 27 appearances for Scotland came over two years ago, is yet to be selected by to new manager Steve Clarke despite having made himself available.
He has created 14 chances in the Championship so far this season. Only four players have created more and all have played a game more than the little Scot.
Despite the side’s faltering fortunes, Bannan admitted Scotland’s major strength is in midfield and that after the birth of his daughter this summer, the prospect of reporting for international duty to sit on the bench has become less appealing.
He said: “I want to play for Scotland and I’ve never ruled myself out.
“But I’ve got a little girl which has recently been born, so things have changed for me.
“It’s a big honour to play for your country, but there’s also there’s been times where I’ve been away and I’ve not started.
“It’s been a pointless trip in some respects because you want to play. I don’t want to sit on the bench because I’ve got a young family now.”
Full-back Liam Palmer was the only Wednesday player included in the Scotland squad but didn’t feature, with Bannan, Steven Fletcher, Jordan Rhodes and on-loan defender David Bates all left out.
Norwich’s Kenny McLean, Aston Villa’s John McGinn and Manchester United’s Scott McTominay have so far been preferred ahead of Bannan in midfield by Clarke, who took over from sacked Alex McLeish in April.
Callum McGregor and Stuart Armstrong, both of Celtic, have also featured.
“I’ve spoken to Steve Clarke a couple of times and made myself available,” added Bannan. “But the squad has been announced and I’m not in it. It’s just one of those things.
“I’ve got to keep working hard for my club and what will happen will happen.
“In my opinion the strongest position in the Scotland squad at the minute is the midfield.
“There’s a lot of other good midfielders who are not the in squad like [Fulham’s] Tom Cairney and [Newcastle’s] Matt Ritchie.
“They’ve not been called up either, so for me it’s just about performing and if selection comes, then great.
“If I knew I was going to play every time the internationals came around that would be the best thing in the world.”
This week’s results leave Scotland marooned nine points behind Russia, leaving Clarke to admit hopes of qualification through the conventional route are now dashed.
However, qualification through the back door is still attainable, with four of the tournament’s 24 places up for grabs for winners of their respective Nations League groups.
Scotland won a group containing Israel and Albania, meaning they are guaranteed a place in a one-off semi-final-and-final play-off format.
The other teams currently in Scotland's way are Norway, Serbia and either Israel or Bulgaria. Of them only Serbia are ranked above Scotland in the current FIFA rankings.