'A competitive area' - Former Rangers star pinpoints what really cost John Souttar his Scotland Euro 2024 spot

John Souttar of Rangers  was left out of the 26-man Scotland squad for the EurosJohn Souttar of Rangers  was left out of the 26-man Scotland squad for the Euros
John Souttar of Rangers was left out of the 26-man Scotland squad for the Euros | Getty Images
Steve Clarke opted to leave out the Rangers centre-back and veteran Hearts keeper Craig Gordon from his 26-man squad for Germany

Andy Halliday has been left wondering whether Rangers defender John Souttar was omitted from Steve Clarke’s Scotland squad for Euro 2024 due to a shortage of time to recovery fully from injury.

The centre-back - who was substituted at half-time during the Light Blues’ Scottish Premiership derby clash against Celtic on May 11 - was named by Clarke in his provisional 28-man squad for this summer’s major tournament, despite failing to make the Gers’ matchday squad for the remaining three fixtures of the season including the Scottish Cup final.

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And Souttar didn’t even make the bench in any of the final two warm-up matches as the national team defeated Gibraltar 2-0 in Faro then drew 2-2 with Finland at Hampden on Friday night ahead of jetting out to Germany. Two of his defensive colleagues who had been struggling for consistent game time for their respective clubs of late - Liam Cooper and Grant Hanley - played a part in both games as they gained vital minutes.

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Upon sustaining his latest setback, at the time Gers manager Philippe Clement was unable to confirm the full extent of the former Hearts star’s injury. It was suggested that something was still lurking around the 27-year-old before official confirmation was received on Friday night that he would miss out along with experienced Hearts goalkeeper Craig Gordon for the group stage games with Germany, Switzerland and Hungary over the coming weeks.  

Discussing Clarke’s final decision to drop Souttar and Gordon, Halliday tol Sky Sports: “When I seen the provisional 28-man squad and see four goalkeepers you always felt one was going to miss out. I just felt that Craig having that double-leg break and only making seven appearances this season.

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“On the flip side, when you look at Liam Kelly, he's just broke a 10-year SPL record of 132 consecutive starts. I always felt if it was going to be one it was going to be Craig but it was fantastic to see him make what could potentially be his Scotland farewell last night. I thought it was a classy touch from Steve Clarke. He will obviously feel very unfortunate he is not going to Germany.

"I think that decision (Souttar) was probably a wee bit more difficult for Steve Clarke. Looking at the 28-man squad there is seven and you could argue eight boys who can play centre-half in the squad.

“You always felt the likes of John Souttar and maybe Liam Cooper, these type of guys, were going against each other and with John's injury coming at a real key time in the season towards the last four or five games.

“You look at the game against Gibraltar, doesn't make the bench. It was great to see him in that open work out but doesn't make the bench again last night so you just wonder was it a race against time with that injury? It was a competitive area of the park, he will certainly feel disappointed but I am still confident with what we have going to Germany.”

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