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Page last updated at 12:46 GMT, Thursday, 16 September 2010 13:46 UK

Craig Levein says Barry Ferguson may end Scotland exile

Scotland manager Craig Levein (left) and midfielder Barry Ferguson
Craig Levein (left) says the door is open for Ferguson's return

Scotland manager Craig Levein has re-stated his desire for Barry Ferguson to return to the national side.

The Birmingham City midfielder told BBC Radio Scotland's Sportsound on Wednesday that it was a possibility.

Levein, in a statement, said he would welcome the 32-year-old back into the fold for the Euro 2012 campaign.

"I have been upfront in saying I would like him to be part of the set-up. If there is any update then we will keep everyone informed," he said.

The Scottish Football Association banned Ferguson from playing for the national side following a breach of team discipline in April 2009.

He took part in a late-night drinking session at the Scotland team's hotel and then made a v-sign gesture while on the bench during a World Cup qualifier against Iceland at Hampden.

Ferguson indicated in July this year that his international career was over, despite Levein succeeding George Burley as Scotland manager.

The former Rangers and Blackburn midfielder admitted that it "hurt" not being part of Levein's Euro 2012 campaign.

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"You can never say never in football. I don't have a fear of going out and being booed," he said.

"It was the way it ended; I thought it was childish, to be told you will not represent your country again by fax."

"I held my hands up. I was stupid," he said.

"People can have a go and say I was having a go at the fans. That was nonsense. I made a stupid decision in the game, doing what I did in front of the media.

"I let my family and the nation down.

"I would have accepted the decision if someone had picked up the phone and said, 'You are finished with Scotland because of your antics at the game'.

"But to captain Scotland is the pinnacle of your career, is it not?"

If the reaction of the Tartan Army does not faze Ferguson, the stumbling blocks to a return seem to be the handling of the hotel and Hampden incidents by the SFA and the extra strain on his body that would accompany international football.

Ferguson's family still live in central Scotland and he travels north from the Midlands whenever possible to be at home.

Watching the games, you want to be out there helping Scotland get to a major European finals. It does hurt not being part of it

Birmingham City midfielder
Barry Ferguson

He added: "When I signed for Birmingham my only concern was to play for them. Moving away from my family, the manager gave me time to come back up the road.

"My break from internationals gives me more time to spend time with the family.

"But to be asked back, it does play on your mind. It's not an easy decision to make."

Levein has stated that he would like to have Ferguson back in the squad, but had given up hope on the central midfielder changing his mind.

Levein told BBC Scotland in July: "I wanted to give him an opportunity and he declined that opportunity. I don't see a way back from that."

Ferguson, with 45 caps for his country, recalled: "Craig came down and we had a great chat.

"He's a guy I have a lot of respect for. He wanted an answer before the Sweden game and my answer was 'no'.

Barry Ferguson and Allan McGregor
Allan McGregor (r) has returned for Scotland. Will Ferguson follow?

"Craig knows that I will speak to him. His words were, 'the door will never be shut'.

"The time I spent with him down at the Birmingham training ground for two hours, I got a great feeling off him. It never leaves you - you always want to represent your country.

"Watching the games, you want to be out there helping Scotland get to a major European finals. It does hurt not being part of it."

The player revealed he has not discussed a return to the Scotland squad with Kris Boyd or Lee McCulloch, who had asked not be selected during George Burley's reign.

Scotland face the Czech Republic and Spain in a Euro 2012 qualifying campaign double-header next month.



see also
Scotland fall six ranking places
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Scotland 2-1 Liechtenstein
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Lithuania 0-0 Scotland
03 Sep 10 |  Scotland
No Scotland return for Ferguson
06 Jul 10 |  Football
Ferguson calls time on Scotland career
06 Jul 10 |  Football
Ferguson 'would welcome 50th cap'
10 Feb 10 |  Birmingham
Ferguson unsure on Scots comeback
08 Feb 10 |  Football
Barry Ferguson's career in photos
17 Jul 09 |  Scottish Premier
Gers' Ferguson 'harshly treated'
06 May 09 |  Rangers
Rangers pair given comeback hope
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Peat demands Scots drinks probe
03 Apr 09 |  Internationals
Scots fans may forgive Gers pair
12 Apr 09 |  Internationals
Scots end Gers pair's cap career
03 Apr 09 |  Internationals


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