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Scotland will miss Barry Ferguson - Sebastian Larsson

Birmingham midfielder Barry Ferguson
Ferguson turned down the offer to return to the Scotland squad

Sebastian Larsson believes the absence of Birmingham club-mate Barry Ferguson is a major blow for Scotland's Euro 2012 qualifying hopes.

Ferguson this summer decided against returning to international football and will not face Larsson's Sweden.

"I would say it's a fairly big blow," said midfielder Larsson ahead of Wednesday's friendly in Stockholm.

"Scotland have got a lot of good players, but Barry was superb for us last season."

Levein had paved the way for the former skipper to return to the national fold following his ban in the wake of the 'Boozegate' affair during George Burley's tenure back in April 2009.

I know James McFadden well and they are a very competitive side with a lot of good players

Sweden midfielder Sabastian Larsson

But the 32-year-old rejected the overtures, saying he wanted to concentrate on his club career after the move from Rangers to Birmingham that closely followed his fall from grace at international level.

"He was that type of player that we have been missing at Birmingham for a while and he really produced the goods for us," said Larsson.

"So, from that perspective, he would have been very good for Scotland, but they have got a lot of very good quality players anyway.

"I suppose Barry wanted to focus on his career with Birmingham and try to keep that going for as long as possible."

Asked if he was surprised by Ferguson's decision, Larsson replied: "I never really spoke to him much about it but I suppose he felt that he was doing so well at Birmingham and maybe those breaks helped him.

"Going away and playing friendlies and qualifiers for the national team takes it out of you. I think he just wanted to focus on his own career and you can't say any more about that.

Birmingham midfielder Sebastian Larsson
Larsson is team-mate of Ferguson's at Birmingham

"I'm sure the gaffer, Alex McLeish, is very pleased with that decision, but it was up to him and he decided not to come back."

While there may be no way back for Ferguson, Rangers goalkeeper Allan McGregor will make his first appearance since his own role in that infamous drinking session at the Scotland team hotel 18 months ago.

McGregor had no qualms about returning to the national team and will be thrown straight into the clash at the Rasunda Stadion after regular number one Craig Gordon was ruled out with a broken arm.

"I heard that it was his first game back for a while, but he is a very good goalie, so it won't be any easier for us to score past him," suggested Larsson.

"Gordon is a very good goalkeeper, but we will try to focus on our game and work on the things that we have to do, but we know we are going to come up against a very tough Scottish side.

"It's going to be a tough game, a physical game, and it will be more like a Premier League game or a British game.

"I know James McFadden well and they are a very competitive side with a lot of good players.

"They've got a new manager and we've got a fairly new manager as well and we are both trying to prepare for the Euro qualifiers coming up, so I think it will be an interesting game.

"As you know, there are a lot of Scottish people in Birmingham, so they didn't really say good luck this time. But hopefully I can go back with a smile on my face."



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McGregor vies for Scotland jersey
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Benfica linked with McGregor bid
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Injury hits McGregor Scots return
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Smith backs Scots recall of duo
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