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Last Updated: Monday, 9 October 2006, 17:49 GMT 18:49 UK
Smith dismayed at absent O'Connor
Scotland striker Garry O'Connor
O'Connor came on after 72 minutes against France
Scotland manager Walter Smith has questioned Garry O'Connor's commitment to the national set-up after the striker missed the trip to Ukraine.

O'Connor has failed to explain his absence despite making a public apology through the BBC after failing to show up at the team's hotel on Sunday.

And Smith said: "He has not managed to contact us with a relevant reason.

"So there is obviously a question mark over whether he wants to be involved at an international level or not."

The 23-year-old, who moved to Lokomotiv Moscow from Hibernian for 1.6m in March, came on as a substitute in Scotland's shock 1-0 win over France on Saturday.

O'Connor revealed in post-match interviews that he wants to quit his Russian club because he is homesick.

He was likely to again be on the bench in the next Euro 2008 qualifier, against Ukraine on Wednesday.

But, after the players were given the evening off to celebrate with their families, agent Gary Mackay telephoned the Scottish FA to say that O'Connor would not be arriving at the team hotel.
I apologise to the SFA, Walter Smith and his staff for my non-appearance

Scotland striker Garry O'Connor

An angry Smith then told Mackay that if O'Connor could not arrive at the hotel on Sunday, he would not be travelling the following morning.

"The only contact we have had is from Gary Mackay, his agent, who was in touch with our administrator to say that he had no idea where the player was," the manager told BBC Sport.

"I think we are all in the dark in that aspect of it.

"Obviously, I am a little disappointed as, at the very least, there could have been some contact."

It appears likely that O'Connor will have to present a strong case if he is to add to his six international caps under the present regime.

"If a player has a relevant reason for not turning up then we have to accept that," said Smith.

However, he played down how significant the loss of O'Connor could be to his European Championship campaign.

"If it was a player of the stature of a Law or Dalglish, it would be a huge loss, but he is a young player just starting his international career," he stressed.

O'Connor's statement, issued on his behalf by Mackay, left unexplained the events that led up to his absence from the flight from Glasgow.

"I apologise to the SFA, Walter Smith and his staff for my non-appearance for the flight to Kiev for this week's international," it said.

"At the earliest opportunity, I hope to meet with Walter Smith, face-to-face, to explain my reasons.

"On my return to Moscow, I will be concentrating on doing my very best for Lokomotiv while hoping my Scotland team-mates continue their great start to this campaign."

SEE ALSO
Whittaker called into Scots squad
09 Oct 06 |  Internationals
O'Connor hopes for Russian exit
08 Oct 06 |  Hibernian
Gordon urging caution after win
08 Oct 06 |  Internationals
Caldwell puts France to sword
08 Oct 06 |  Internationals
Smith revels in greatest triumph
07 Oct 06 |  Internationals
Scotland 1-0 France
07 Oct 06 |  Internationals


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