Steven Fletcher & Matt Phillips in Scotland squad to face Albania & Israel

Steven Fletcher and Matt Phillips
Steven Fletcher and Matt Phillips training with Scotland in 2012
Nations League League C, Group 1: Albania v Scotland
Venue: Loro Borici Stadium, Shkoder Date: Saturday, 17 November Kick-off: 19:45 GMT
Coverage: Listen on BBC Radio Scotland; live text commentary on BBC Sport website

Strikers Steven Fletcher and Matt Phillips have been recalled to the Scotland squad for their final two Nations League group games against Albania and Israel later this month.

Defender Charlie Mulgrew is also included, despite a recent rib injury.

Ryan Christie, Gary Mackay-Steven and uncapped Michael Devlin retain their places after being called up midway through the Scots' last double-header.

Scotland visit Albania on 17 November and host Israel three days later.

Israel, who beat Scotland last month, lead League C Group 1 by three points but have played a game more than both Scotland and Albania.

Head coach Alex McLeish is without several key players, including strikers Steven Naismith and Leigh Griffiths and defender John Souttar.

Fletcher 'a specialist centre-forward'

Sheffield Wednesday's Fletcher, 31, last played for Scotland 13 months ago and has nine goals in 31 international appearances. He has scored three times so far this season.

"When we had the call-offs, we had no hesitation to call Steven and here he is, it's great," said McLeish.

"He's got brilliant experience. He's a specialist centre-forward. It's good news, I think, for the nation. We've still got young strikers coming through like Oli McBurnie. These guys can learn off people like Fletcher."

West Brom's Phillips, 27, netted the winner in Scotland's March friendly victory in Hungary - his only international goal in 12 appearances - and he has scored four times so far this term for the Baggies. The other two strikers in McLeish's latest squad, Swansea's McBurnie and Sporting Kansas City's Johnny Russell, have not yet scored for Scotland.

Mulgrew, 32, came off after 16 minutes of Blackburn's 1-1 draw with West Brom last month and did not feature in Rovers' win over Queen's Park Rangers on Saturday. McLeish says the Scotland camp should know "by the weekend" whether the defender is fit while Fulham midfielder Kevin McDonald is receiving treatment at his club but is expected to join the Scotland squad next week.

Christie, who has three caps, has scored three goals in his past three games for Celtic while Aberdeen's twice-capped winger Mackay-Steven has five club goals this season. Devlin partners Scotland regular Scott McKenna in the Dons' central defence.

"They've been at a pretty decent level for a while, pretty consistent," McLeish said of the Aberdeen players. "It's a group of guys who are playing well at a particular time.

"Ryan as well. Ryan we took on the tour to Mexico and Peru and he showed up well there. It looks like he's even improved since then and he's getting better and better so again it's got to be good news for us."

As well as the injured Naismith, Griffiths and Hearts centre-back John Souttar, Celtic defender Jack Hendry, Manchester United midfielder Scott McTominay and West Ham forward Robert Snodgrass also drop out from the squad selected for the Israel and Portugal defeats in October.

McLeish indicated the absence of McTominay and Fulham midfielder Tom Cairney from his squad was down to lack of games.

Analysis - Fletcher or Russell?

Scotland women midfielder Leanne Crichton on BBC Sportsound

I think Steven Fletcher will be a shoe-in to start. I don't think for a guy that's been out for 13 months, you would just bring him in to almost supplement the squad.

He's brought him in knowing that he'll probably go with that one up top.

You know Fletcher's going to be in the box and he's going to grab you goals when he's up there, that's what he does best.

Former Scotland forward Kris Commons on BBC Sportsound

Steven Fletcher's a recognisable striker, he's experienced at the top level. The next question will be whether or not he starts.

Johnny Russell is playing at a real good level at the minute - man of the match displays in America, involved in the play-offs. His contribution to Scotland over the previous games has been superb.

He adds pace, he's clever, he can get hold of the ball. Not an out and out striker but with the pace of Ryan Fraser and James Forrest alongside him, the interchanging, running in behind and coming short, I think that'd work well.

Scotland squad

Goalkeepers: Craig Gordon (Celtic), Allan McGregor (Rangers), Jon McLaughlin (Sunderland).

Defenders: Michael Devlin (Aberdeen), Scott McKenna (Aberdeen), Charlie Mulgrew (Blackburn Rovers), Stephen O'Donnell (Kilmarnock), Andy Robertson (Liverpool), Graeme Shinnie (Aberdeen), Kieran Tierney (Celtic).

Midfielders: Stuart Armstrong (Southampton), Ryan Christie (Celtic), James Forrest (Celtic), Ryan Fraser (Bournemouth), Gary Mackay-Steven (Aberdeen), Kevin McDonald (Fulham), John McGinn (Aston Villa), Callum McGregor (Celtic), Callum Paterson (Cardiff City).

Forwards: Steven Fletcher (Sheffield Wednesday), Oliver McBurnie (Swansea), Matt Phillips (West Brom), Johnny Russell (Sporting Kansas City).

My Scotland team to face Albania


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