Monday 24 July 2017

Levein finally decides it's Miller's time

Roddy Forsyth in Dublin

Kenny Miller admitted last night that he had been exasperated by the way Craig Levein had handled the occasion of his 50th cap -- an achievement that is usually enhanced by the award of the captain's armband -- but that he had swallowed his pride for the sake of the team in the Euro 2012 qualifier against the Czech Republic in Prague.

Miller's decision to keep his irritation to himself and move on has been rewarded by Levein with the captaincy for tonight's Carling Nations Cup meeting with Northern Ireland in Dublin.

Miller's attitude contrasts vividly with that of Steven Fletcher, who was originally included in the squad for this game. However, the Wolves forward was piqued at having been left out for the game against the Czechs and texted a member of the Scottish FA staff to say that he no longer wished to be considered for selection.

Asked if being captain for the night made up for his disappointment in Prague, Miller replied: "Of course it does, but obviously that night was a major disappointment. I felt I merited a place in the team with the season I was having, while I'd also scored in the previous international.

"So I kind of thought it was a given that I would've been playing. And with it being my 50th cap, I thought it was maybe something where I would've been given the captaincy.

"It's something that's happened down through history with any team but the gaffer decided to go with a way he felt would get us a result and I wasn't in that line-up.

"I never thought of saying, 'shove it'. I see people saying they were p***** off. Of course I was the same, but when you sit back and look at it, it's not about me playing or anybody else playing. It's about the team going on and trying to get a result."

When it was suggested to Levein that he had chosen make Miller captain tonight because the player had not allowed his feelings to master his judgment, the manager concurred.

"Exactly -- I'm trying to build a club mentality, where everybody thinks the same," he said. "By that I don't mean I want robots but the prime driver behind the team is the team and not individuals."

Meanwhile, he was asked if James McCarthy could yet play for Scotland -- as many Irish observers fear the Wigan player intends to do -- after he pulled out of the squad for last night's game against Wales.

"We are in the same position as the Republic, in that we look for players everywhere and we have never given up hope of McCarthy, but as to his position with Ireland, I really don't want to get involved with that," said Levein. "I have my enough to do with preparing the squad to play a Northern Ireland team that has a lot of talent in its ranks." (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Scotland (probable, 4-5-1) -- McGregor; Hutton, Caldwell, Berra, Bardsley; Naismith, Adam, Morrison, Brown, Commons; Miller.

Northern Ireland (probable, 4-4-2) -- Tuffey; Craigan, McArdle, McAuley, Baird; McCann, Davis, McGinn, McCourt; Healy, Boyce.

Ref -- A Kelly (Rep of Ireland).

Scotland v Northern Ireland,

Live, Sky Sports 1, 7.45

Irish Independent

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