FOLLOWING a spate of withdrawals, there was a clamour for Celtic’s in-form right-back Anthony Ralston to be included in the Scotland World Cup squad for tonight’s vital meeting against Austria.

However, Steve Clarke baffled the defender’s supporters by ignoring his claims after Nathan Patterson, Ryan Fraser and Kenny McLean were ruled out of the game in Vienna.

Instead, the international boss opted to call in Hibs’ No.2 Paul McGinn, brother of midfielder John, as an eleventh-hour replacement which left the Hoops revitalised Ralston out in the cold.

However, it has emerged the 23-year-old WAS a target for Clarke, but any possibility of a quickfire emergency inclusion had to be dismissed on medical grounds.

HOOPY DAZE…Anthony Ralston celebrates his goal in the 6-0 win over Dundee.

No details have been made public, but the Scotland chief, speaking to the Daily Record, admitted: “Circumstances dictate that Paul was the player we brought in.

“He wasn’t on stand-by because I didn’t think I was going to lose Ryan Fraser especially who can cover at right wing-back.

“That was a late one, but we managed to get Paul Covid-tested and into the camp.

“He’s not the first one we tried to bring in over the camp. But circumstances sometimes go against you and you don’t manage to get the boys in.”

Sheffield Wednesday’s Liam Palmer – who was axed from Clarke’s squad for the Euros – turned down an SoS for family reasons.

There can be little doubt, though, that Ralston is on the manager’s radar after his impressive start to the season in which he has played in every minute of Ange Postecoglou’s opening competitive games as Hoops gaffer.

Callum McGregor, who was given the captain’s armband when Andy Robertson came off during Saturday night’s 1-0 win over Moldova at Hampden, is poised to start against the Austrians this evening.

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