By: Mark Henderson on 20 Mar, 2017 12:30
THE bulk of Celtic’s international contingent will be on Scotland duty this week, with six members of Brendan Rodgers’ side included in Gordon Strachan’s squad for the friendly with Canada (Wednesday) and crunch World Cup qualifier against Slovenia (Sunday).
Stuart Armstrong, who netted his 12th goal of the season in Sunday’s 2-1 win over Dundee, will be targeting his first senior cap for the national team after being called-up for the first time since August 2015. Craig Gordon, Kieran Tierney, Scott Brown, James Forrest and Leigh Griffiths are the other Hoops players to be selected by Gordon Strachan.
Elsewhere, Dedryck Boyata has been rewarded for his consistent club form since the turn of the year with a recall to the Belgium squad for their World Cup qualifier against Greece and friendly with Russia.
Nir Bitton has been called-up by Israel as they aim to maintain their positive start to the World Cup qualifying campaign away to Spain, while Mikael Lustig could feature for Sweden in their World Cup qualifier against Belarus and friendly with Portugal.
Further afield, in an intriguing twist, Celtic team-mates Emilio Izaguirre and Cristian Gamboa could go head-to-head when Honduras entertain Costa Rica in a World Cup qualifier next Tuesday (March 28), Both players will be hoping to into that match on the back of a positive result, with Honduras facing USA and Costa Rica tackling Mexico.
Meanwhile, January signing Eboue Kouassi, like Armstrong, could make his international bow as Ivory Coast embark on a friendly double-header with Russia and Senegal.
At Under-21 level, Scotland have included four Celtic youngsters in their squad for a friendly against Estonia – Liam Henderson, Jamie McCart (on loan at Inverness Caley Thistle), Joe Thomson (on loan at Queen of the South) and Paul McMullan (on loan at Dunfermline).
Patrick Roberts has been named in the England U20 squad which will participate in an international tournament in France. The young Lions will take on Portugal, France and Senegal.
There will be five Celtic youngsters in the Scotland U19 squad for their European Championship elite round fixtures against Austria, Czech Republic and Hungary. Ross Doohan, Anthony Ralston, Mark Hill, Michael Johnston and Theo Archibald will be aiming to help Ricky Sbragia’s side reach the finals of the competition.
That will also be the goal of Kristoffer Ajer, currently in the midst of a loan spell at Kilmarnock, when he represents Norway U19s in the same stage of the tournament. Their elite round opponents are England, Belarus and Spain.
At U17 level, Jack Aitchison, Daniel Church, Robbie Deas, Kerr McInroy and Stephen Welsh will also be hoping to feature for Scotland on Wednesday, when they face Switzerland at St Mirren Park, while Thomas Caffrey is also on standby for the squad.
Following a 6-1 win over Montenegro, with Aitchison bagging a brace and McInroy also on target, and a 1-0 victory over Serbia, the young Scots can guarantee their spot at the European Championship finals with a point against Switzerland in Paisley.