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Ricky Foster gets Scots call as injury rules out Charlie Mulgrew
CRAIG Levein’s defensive options for Scotland’s opening World Cup qualifier against Serbia at Hampden tomorrow have been further diminished by the withdrawal of Charlie Mulgrew, while goalkeeper Allan McGregor has admitted he has not yet fully recovered from the groin injury which had threatened his participation.
Celtic defender Mulgrew pulled out of the squad yesterday morning after returning to his club earlier in the week for treatment on and assessment of an Achilles tendon injury. Scotland’s current Player of the Year has been replaced by Ricky
Foster of Bristol City, who answered the call to join up with the squad at their Renfrewshire base last night.
Mulgrew became the third defender to withdraw because of injury. Southampton left-back Danny Fox and Norwich City right-back Russell Martin were both sent back to their clubs on Monday with groin and ankle problems respectively. They were replaced with uncapped duo Paul Dixon of Huddersfield Town and Gary MacKenzie of MK Dons. Levein initially sought to call Lee Wallace into the squad but the Rangers left-back was unavailable because of a hamstring strain.
Former Aberdeen captain Foster, who can play in either full-back position but is primarily right-sided, has ironically lost his place in the Bristol City side to former Celtic and Scotland defender Mark Wilson in recent weeks. It is 27-year-old Foster’s second late call into the Scotland squad, having been drafted in as cover for the friendly against Slovenia in February when he was an unused substitute.
McGregor’s inclusion in Levein’s squad, which had seemed highly unlikely when he limped out of Scotland’s 3-1 friendly win over Australia at Easter Road last month, came as a welcome boost with the former Rangers No 1 able to make his debut for new club Besiktas in the Turkish League last weekend. But the 30-year-old has revealed he continues to feel the effects of an injury which the medical experts had predicted would force him into a much lengthier period on the sidelines.
“It’s still not 100 per cent,” McGregor told Sky Sports News. “It’s not pain I’m still feeling, it’s hard to describe. But I felt a lot better when I played and in training there are no problems, so it’s good.
“I feel a lot better. When I first did it, I thought there was no chance I would make it for these games. The way it was feeling at the time and the timescale people were telling me, I thought there was no chance. I could hardly walk and was in pain. I had treatment for a week or so, got back training and then played at the weekend. It feels a lot better.”
There is no doubt Levein will want his established first choice goalkeeper on duty tomorrow, but Levein has also stressed his confidence in deputies Matt Gilks of Blackpool and David Marshall of Cardiff City.
Christophe Berra was able to join up with the squad yesterday, the Wolves defender having stayed in England earlier in the week as his partner gave birth to a baby girl. His availability means Levein can deploy him in partnership with Andy Webster of Hearts in central defence. Alan Hutton, despite being out of favour at Aston Villa, looks certain to fill the right-back role, while Dixon is poised for an international baptism of fire at left-back.
Taken from the Scotsman