'It is a Celtic matter' - Steve Clarke explains Greg Taylor's surprise Scotland omission

Steve Clarke has revealed that "one or two little issues" are behind the surprise omission of Celtic left-back Greg Taylor from his Scotland squad.

The 25-year-old has not been selected for the Euro 2024 qualifiers against Cyprus and Spain at Hampden Park later this month despite enjoying a stellar season for the Premiership leaders.

Clarke has named Andy Robertson, Kieran Tierney, Aaron Hickey and Nathan Patterson as his full-back options with Taylor missing out for the second successive camp after Celtic refused to release players for Scotland’s friendly in Turkey in November due to the club's involvement in the Sydney Super Cup.

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Taylor was rested for Celtic's league win over Hearts at Parkhead last Wednesday but was recalled to the starting line-up for the Scottish Cup quarter-final win at Tynecastle on Saturday. Clarke suggested that there were mitigating factors behind Taylor’s absence, but refused to give exact details.

Celtic's Greg Taylor has been left out of the Scotland squad for the Euro 2024 qualifiers against Cyprus and Spain. (Photo by Craig Foy / SNS Group)Celtic's Greg Taylor has been left out of the Scotland squad for the Euro 2024 qualifiers against Cyprus and Spain. (Photo by Craig Foy / SNS Group)
Celtic's Greg Taylor has been left out of the Scotland squad for the Euro 2024 qualifiers against Cyprus and Spain. (Photo by Craig Foy / SNS Group)

He said: "I know Greg very, very well. We have a good relationship. I have had a chat with him and he is fine. There are one or two little issues around that one, which is not for me to say. It is a Celtic matter."

Clarke’s squad features three uncapped goalkeepers including a first call-up for Norwich City number one Angus Gunn, who has switched international allegience from England after previously appearing for their Under-21s.

Gunn will battle with Hearts shot-stopper Zander Clark and Motherwell’s Liam Kelly for the starting slot after Craig Gordon suffered a double leg break while playing for Hearts in December.

The 27-year-old former Southampton and Manchester City player had previously rejected overtures from his father’s native country but Clarke was made aware of a U-turn.

Clarke, who played alongside Gunn’s father, Bryan, for Scotland, said: “I heard through a third party that Angus was interested in playing international football. When I heard that I thought I would go down and meet him. I met him in Norwich and we had a good conversation.

“I didn’t have to persuade him too much because he felt as though that was his best chance of getting international football, to play for Scotland. Obviously his dad was a Scotland international so it all fitted in quite well.

“I didn’t need to speak to Bryan, it wasn’t the dad that was going to make the decision, it was his son. So I spoke to Angus and had a good conversation. He was very honest, I was very honest. Just on the circumstances and the situation as to how Angus had come to his earlier decisions, how he had come to his later decision.

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“For me it was just being honest that he would be coming in as one of the goalkeepers in the squad and it would be up to him to force his way into the team if he was good enough to do that.

“Obviously we have lost Craig Gordon injured which is a massive blow to us. Craig was the undisputed number one.

“And I looked at the pool of goalkeepers and just felt that if we could improve the pool of goalkeepers then that’s what we should do.

“The good thing is we have a full week’s training. I have three good goalkeepers. Liam Kelly has been in almost every squad. Zander has been in squads, obviously lost his place when he wasn’t playing and then he was sitting behind Craig at Hearts. So Zander is back in the squad.

“None of them have got any caps so all to play for in the week. Everyone starts afresh and it could be a big chance for somebody to nail down the number one spot.”

Clarke dismissed any suggestions that Gunn’s previous unwillingness to play for Scotland was an issue.

“The first time I spoke to him he chose to play for the Scottish national team,” he said. “What’s gone on before has gone one before but now he is part of the squad and a very welcome part of the squad too.”



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