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BIG ECK PRAISES CELTIC

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ALEX McLEISH has praised the contribution of Celtic players at international level.

The returning Scots boss started without a representative from the Hoops in the 1-0 loss to Costa Rica on Friday night – although he introduced Stuart Armstrong and Callum McGregor in the second-half.

McLeish said: “The Celtic players were instrumental in Scotland’s fortunes over the past few months of Gordon Strachan’s era.

“The results came thicker and faster with the great form of the Celtic players.

“You know what you’re going to get from them – it’s up to others to show they can reach that standard.

“It’s okay saying everyone’s here on merit because of what they’re doing for their clubs, but international level is another step up.

“Can they step up there and not have stage fright? Can they excel? That’ll be the judgement.

“There were a few debuts on Friday night, young guys, and they don’t have all the answers.”

Speaking about the introduction of the Parkhead duo against the Central Americans, McLeish added: “They did impact on the game. They play together and it showed.

“That gelling, knowing what each other is doing, is a factor in putting a team together.

“You can look at a team you’ve picked and think it’s good and then not get the performance we were looking for.

“At a club, it’s like changing the team for a Cup-tie and you think on paper it looks good, then you struggle. I’ve seen it hundreds of times.”

Armstrong and McGregor could start against Hungary in Budapest on Tuesday night and there could also be a Scotland senior debut for new Bhoy Jack Hendry.

The 22-year-old defender, who was signed from Dundee in January, is likely to take over from Norwich’s Grant Hanley at centre-half.

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