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Scotland boss Clarke doesn’t want to rush Griffiths return

Scotland manager Steve Clarke felt it was too early for Leigh Griffiths to return to the international fold.

The Celtic striker has been left out of the squad to take on Russia and Belgium in European Championship qualifiers next month.

The 29-year-old has netted three goals this season after missing the last six months of the 2018/19 campaign to deal with mental health problems.

Griffiths had declared himself willing and able to revive his Scotland career but Clarke decided to give him more time to bed back into club football.

“He was close,” Clarke said. “Listen, Leigh has got some fantastic attributes. I just look at him just now and he’s come a long way in a short space of time after a very difficult spell in his life.

“And I feel we should just give him a little more time to settle into the role again at Celtic and get himself fully fit and firing. And a fully fit and firing, sharp Leigh Griffiths will always be good for us.

“But at the moment I just feel it’s a little bit too early to push him.”

When asked if he had consulted Celtic on the decision, Clarke said: “You speak to people about certain individual players to get a little bit of background but the decision is my decision. That’s what I am paid for.”

Steven Naismith is in despite missing the last two Hearts games with a hamstring problem while Oli McBurnie, Johnny Russell and Matt Phillips are other attacking options.

Clarke has named Grant Hanley, Liam Cooper and Charlie Mulgrew as his centre-back options with Scott McKenna, John Souttar and Stuart Findlay all dropping out injured since his first two games in charge in June.

West Ham winger Robert Snodgrass is back in the fold while Rangers midfielder Ryan Jack has earned a recall.

On Snodgrass, Clarke said: “He has good experience, Robert. When I spoke to him over the summer he was very keen to come back on board.

“He picked up a little injury last week but he let us know he was fine.”

Portsmouth goalkeeper Craig MacGillivray wins his first call-up as back-up to David Marshall and Jon McLaughlin.