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Page last updated at 16:56 GMT, Thursday, 19 November 2009

McLeish 'baffled' by ban U-turn

Alex McLeish
Ferguson and McGregor both played for Scotland under Alex McLeish

Former Scotland manager Alex McLeish is surprised that the next national coach will be free to select Allan McGregor and Barry Ferguson.

Scottish FA chief executive Gordon Smith said any decision to select the banned duo would be up to the new boss.

"It baffles me that the door is now open. It makes it look like it's George's fault, which is probably not fair," said Birmingham boss McLeish.

"It was the SFA that said they couldn't play again, it wasn't George Burley."

McGregor and Ferguson were banned from playing for Scotland in April, following a high-profile breach of discipline while on international duty under then manager Burley.

I want to see the best players playing for the country who can. We're not particularly well off that we can knock back people who should be in there.

Rangers assistant manager Ally McCoist

Both players made offensive gestures to the media during Scotland's World Cup qualifying match against Iceland at Hampden in reaction to the coverage of their late night drinking session following the previous match against the Netherlands.

McLeish signed former Scotland and Rangers captain Ferguson in the summer, having been in charge of the midfielder and goalkeeper McGregor during his time at Ibrox and with the national side.

The news that both players can be considered by the next manager has been welcomed by Rangers assistant manager Ally McCoist, who won 61 caps for Scotland.

"I've got to say from a personal point of view as a Scotland supporter, which I am, that I'm delighted that seems to be happening," he said on the subject of the ban being lifted.

"I want to see the best players playing for the country who can. We're not particularly well off that we can knock back people who should be in there.

"I don't pick the squad and I wouldn't envy the next manager in terms of the task ahead of him because it will be difficult.

"In that respect, I think he's got to pick the best people available to him and I don't think anybody would disagree that Allan McGregor's among our top three or four keepers.

"Likewise, Kris Boyd is certainly amongst the top finishers and Barry Ferguson would be in any Scotland squad on merit.

"If you consider these options and the fact it looks like they're going to be available to the new manager, I think that's a great thing."

Striker Boyd refused to play for Burley after he was overlooked as a substitute during Scotland's 0-0 draw with Norway in October 2008.

Meanwhile, McLeish was quick to rule out a return to the Scotland post.

"I've got a fantastic challenge here at Birmingham," he explained.

"I am really enjoying it and building a team and infrastructure which hopefully can keep us in the Premier League for a few seasons to come.

"I loved my time with Scotland, a fantastic journey which was part of my education in football and it is a phenomenal honour to manage your country.

"But I am very happy at Birmingham and will be even happier if we get to January showing the same performance levels of the last few weeks."

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see also
Weir backs return of exiled Scots
18 Nov 09 |  Internationals
Smith in no rush to name new boss
18 Nov 09 |  Internationals
Gers boss no plans for Scots job
18 Nov 09 |  Internationals
Duo keen on Scotland manager role
17 Nov 09 |  Internationals
Mission Impossible for Scotland?
17 Nov 09 |  Internationals
Scotland's search begins
18 Nov 09 |  Internationals
Chick Young's view
16 Nov 09 |  Scottish Premier
The rise and fall of Burley
16 Nov 09 |  Internationals
Burley sacked as Scotland manager
16 Nov 09 |  Internationals
Boyd reaffirms Scots squad exile
17 Sep 09 |  Rangers
Scots end Gers pair's cap career
03 Apr 09 |  Internationals

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Sky Sports McLeish warns Ferguson - 3 hrs ago
Edinburgh Evening News Scotland players would welcome exiled trio's return, claims Steven Whittaker - 4 hrs ago
Glasgow Evening Times Bazza is told Scotland could damage club spot - 18 hrs ago
The World Game McCoist hopes for trio's return - 25 hrs ago
Virgin Media Ferguson must consider club - McLeish - 26 hrs ago


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