Which England-based Scots might Gordon Strachan call upon?
When Gordon Strachan assesses the opening days of the new league seasons north and south of the Border, Scotland's national coach will find few positives in his often-expressed desire to choose from players performing at a higher domestic level.
It is eight years since Alan Hutton headed to Tottenham Hotspur for more than £11m, six months after Craig Gordon joined Sunderland for just £2m less during a season that was to prove a false dawn for those of us who thought it was ushering in a new golden era for Scottish football.
And, while transfer fees in England continue to rocket skywards - Manchester City spent £111.5m on three players last week, Manchester United a world record £89m on Paul Pogba alone - no Scottish-born player has earned a permanent transfer to the top flight south of the Border this summer.
Scots still move for significant sums, but a fee of around £12m was only enough to take striker Ross McCormack from one Championship club, Fulham, to another, Aston Villa. Meanwhile, the Birmingham club's fellow relegation victims, Newcastle United, paid a similar amount to persuade winger Matt Ritchie to step down from the top flight, where he had shone with Bournemouth.
- Scots players in English Premier League
- Scots players in English Championship
- Scots players in English League One
- Scots players in English League Two
English-born Matt Phillips is the one Scotland international to win a big-money move to the Premier League - West Bromwich Albion paying Queens Park Rangers £5.5m for the winger who no doubt hopes it will help him add to his mere four caps.
When the top flight kicks off in England on Saturday, Phillips will be among 20 Scots available to the 20 clubs. That is an increase of four from when last season ended, but that is a slightly deceptive statistic.
That 20 includes Liam Bridcutt, the midfielder back at Sunderland but in the middle of a protracted return to Leeds United on loan, winger Ryan Fraser, who could be back on the fringes at Bournemouth after spending last season at Ipswich Town, and full-back Jordan McGhee, who is on loan from Hearts but viewed by Middlesbrough as mainly a development player.
It also includes Thursday's transfer to Sunderland of Donald Love, who has been bought by former Manchester United boss David Moyes with the hope that the versatile Scotland Under-21 defender can make a quick graduation from the Old Trafford reserve squad.
Despite the 21-year-old's step up, there remains not one Scot in the first-team squads of the clubs who finished in the Premier League's top five last season.
The highest-placed club with players eligible for Scotland are Southampton. Unfortunately for Strachan, as they look to become regular starters at St Mary's, English-born 20-year-olds Matt Targett and Sam Gallagher have already switched their allegiances back to the land of their birth after representing Scotland at under-19 level.
West Ham United are the highest finishers with a Scottish-born player on their books, but left-back Stephen Hendrie - the last player to leave Scotland's top flight for a fee of more than £1m when he left Hamilton Academical last summer - has again been sent out on loan and will spend the season with Blackburn Rovers in the Championship.
That leaves right-back Phil Bardsley and midfielder Charlie Adam as Scotland's top finishers last season, with Stoke City in ninth, but both have fallen out of favour under Strachan.
Everton, in 11th place, have two Scottish-born players on their books. However, midfielders James McCarthy and Aiden McGeady famously chose to represent Republic of Ireland instead of their homeland.
|Eligible Scots in England||End of season 2015-16:||Start season 2016-17:|
Swansea City, who finished one place below, have left-back Stephen Kingsley and midfielder Jay Fulton. The 22-year-olds who were previously with Falkirk at least seem well placed to build on a handful of appearances between them at the end of last season but have yet to become regular starters.
That makes winger Ikechi Anya, with Watford in 13th place, the Scotland squad regular with the highest-placed club, but even he only made 18 starts for the Hornets.
The loss of Norwich City's four-strong Scottish enclave through relegation has at least been compensated by the return of Hull City's, but it is indicative of the lower half of the Premier League and top-end of the Championship being as good as it gets for the nation's talent.
Middlesbrough's promotion at last gives Jordan Rhodes the chance to prove to Strachan that he can reproduce his goalscoring feats at the top level, which would be particularly timely now that the national boss's preferred lone striker, Steven Fletcher, has dropped down to the Championship with Sheffield Wednesday.
The former Sunderland forward was one of 19 Scots who started the opening weekend's games in England's second tier, but eight of those have not been involved in Strachan's squads. Indeed, nine who have been involved regularly in the head coach's set-up either were on the bench or not even in their side's match-day squad.
Strachan's most pressing need is for some fresh blood in central defence, but a look down the divisions and there is little there to suggest there is anyone about to challenge Norwich's Russell Martin, Ipswich's Christophe Berra, Grant Hanley, who switched to Newcastle United for £5.5m from Blackburn Rovers, and veteran Gordon Greer, who replaced the latter at Ewood Park after his release by Brighton.
One of Strachan's best alternatives in that position, Charlie Mulgrew, has found himself effectively without a club after failing to agree a new contract with Celtic. Indeed, much to the national boss's dismay no doubt, it is a 20-year-old Irishman, Eoghan O'Connell, who has emerged this summer as the Scottish champions' potential next big thing in that position.
Admittedly, Stuart Armstrong, James Forrest and Callum McGregor, all of whom have been on the fringes under Strachan, forced their way into Celtic's starting line-up as they began the defence of their Scottish title with a 2-1 win away to Hearts.
These are the crumbs of comfort for which Scotland fans have become accustomed. It can also be pointed out that Wales reached the Euro 2016 semi-finals with a similar number of players (19) vying for starting places in this weekend's Premier League and Northern Ireland advanced to the last 16 with less than half that number - a mere seven.
There is also irony in the fact that, with Celtic's Kieran Tierney, Hull's Andrew Robertson and Kingsley about to do battle for a starting berth - not to mention Hendrie, Rangers' Lee Wallace, Aberdeen's Graeme Shinnie and the much-forgotten Barry Douglas, who helped Konyaspor finish a best-ever third in the Turkish Super Lig - Scotland could fill half a team with quality left-backs.