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St Johnstone's Murray Davidson given Scots U-21 call-up

St Johnstone midfielder Murray Davidson
Davidson has been in excellent form for St Johnstone

St Johnstone midfielder Murray Davidson has won his first call-up to the Scotland Under-21 squad.

Coach Billy Stark said: "He's been on my radar for a long time. In fact, he was almost involved in one of the last squads but was carrying an injury."

But the coach has omitted Motherwell midfielder Ross Forbes and Celtic defender Jason Marr because of their lack of playing time at their clubs.

Stark's side face Azerbaijan in their Uefa European qualifier on 2 March.

"Murray gives us something different in being a box-to-box midfielder who gets into good scoring positions," said Stark. "He's also a physical presence.

"Now he's showing he can perform consistently in the Premier League and deserves a call-up.

The loss of Barry Bannon is admittedly a big blow to us

Scotland Under-21 coach Billy Stark

"His inclusion also shows other players that there's always an avenue into the squad."

However, Stark has already had to consider a replacement to his original choices, with Manchester United defender David Gray pulling out before the squad announcement because of a pending operation.

Stark, who will name a replacement in the next two days, had already lost influential Aston Villa's Barry Bannon to a broken toe that the midfielder suffered during his loan spell with Blackpool.

"That is admittedly a big blow to us," said Stark. "He's played really well in the last couple of games and been a big influence for us.

"But that's international football. You always expect to have one or two missing each time you name a squad."

There are recalls for the fit-again Falkirk defender Thomas Scobbie and Rangers midfielder Andrew Shinnie, while Dundee United striker David Goodwillie returns from suspension.

Stark said that the limited time he will have to spend with the squad influenced his selection.

"The most important factor in this tie is we have less time to prepare than normal," he said.

"Most of our other games have been on a Saturday and we've had a whole week to assess and prepare the players.

"This time round, we'll meet on the Sunday - with the majority of the players having played the day before - then the game is on Tuesday, so it's not long at all.

"With that in mind, we've had to select the players who are playing regularly and who we can trust to be match fit.

"The hard part is dropping players out of the squad and, from the last game, I've left out Jason Marr and Ross Forbes.

"Unfortunately, this game has came at a time where they aren't featuring so heavily for their clubs."


Scotland Under-21 squad

Goalkeepers: Jamie Barclay (Falkirk on loan to East Stirlingshire), Scott Gallacher (Rangers), Alan Martin (Leeds United)

Defenders: Paul Caddis (Celtic), Brian Easton (Burnley on loan to Hamilton Academical), Paul Hanlon (Hibernian), Chris Mitchell (Falkirk on loan to Ayr United), Ross Perry (Rangers), Thomas Scobbie (Falkirk)

Midfielders: Scott Arfield (Falkirk), Paul Coutts (Preston North End), Murray Davidson (St Johnstone), Kevin McDonald (Burnley), Stephen McGinn (Watford), Andrew Shinnie (Rangers on loan to Dundee), David Wotherspoon (Hibernian)

Forwards: David Goodwillie (Dundee United), Leigh Griffiths (Dundee), Rory Loy (Rangers on loan to St Mirren), Chris Maguire (Aberdeen on loan to Kilmarnock), Jamie Murphy (Motherwell)



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