Ex-Lanark United stopper Brian Martin reckons the Old Firm’s heavy reliance on foreign centre backs is hurting the Scotland team.
The Tartan Army need little reminder of our recent failure to qualify for the 2018 World Cup in Russia, a 10th consecutive major tournament we’ll be absent from.
And many disgruntled fans have linked this depressing trend to our lack of quality centre halves, perhaps illustrated by the fact that Charlie Mulgrew of English League One side Blackburn Rovers and Christophe Berra of struggling Scottish Premiership outfit Hearts were regulars in the latest unsuccessful campaign.
Martin, who starred for Lanark between 2000 and 2001, said: “I think the defensive problems the Scotland national team has is because Rangers and Celtic haven’t got any Scottish centre halves. Back in my day there were a lot of good guys playing for big clubs.
“Colin Hendry, Colin Calderwood and Derek Whyte were playing in the English Premier League and up here you had Alan McLaren, Craig Levein, Dave MacPherson and Brian O’Neill. A lot had great experience of playing at the highest level, even in European matches.
“The European experience I had with Motherwell back then (Martin was in the Motherwell side who impressed during a narrow UEFA Cup loss to German giants Borussia Dortmund in 1994) was the reason that I got into two full Scotland squads.”
The two international appearances Martin refers to are when he pulled on the famous dark blue jersey in 1995 for Kirin Cup fixtures against Ecuador and Japan.
And the ex-Falkirk and St Mirren stalwart, who also won two Scotland ‘B’ caps, reckons he would be in current Scotland squads if he was 25 years younger.
“I think I would get in the Scotland squad at the moment if I was in my prime,” he said. “It was hard for me to get into the set-up in the mid-90s as then manager Craig Brown had introduced a club-type set-up where the same people were getting picked.”