LEIGH GRIFFITHS has been left out of the Scotland international squad for the Euro 2020 double-header against Russia and Belgium next month.
Manager Steve Clarke has resisted the temptation of throwing the comeback Celtic striker into the firing line for the crucial ties.
Griffiths missed a chunk of last season because of personal issues, but has returned to the first team reckoning and scored three goals in eight appearances.
Asked how near the the Hoops star was to making the squad, the international boss, speaking to Sky Sports News, replied: “Close. Leigh has got some fantastic attributes. He has come a long way in a short space of time after a very difficult spell in his life.
“I feel we need to give him a little bit more time to settle into the role again at Celtic.
“A fully fit and firing Leigh Griffiths will always be good for us, but at the moment I just feel it is a little too early to push him.
“The decision is my decision. That is what I am paid for.”
Griffiths’ Parkhead pals James Forrest, Callum McGregor and Ryan Christie are in the squad.
Clarke named a 24-man player pool, including West Ham midfielder Robert Snodgrass, who has not featured for his nation since September last year.
Defenders Grant Hanley and Liam Cooper have also been recalled, but there is no place for Scott McKenna who misses out through injury.
Portsmouth goalkeeper Craig MacGillivray has earned his first call-up, while captain Andy Robertson is back in the side after missing Scotland’s 3-0 defeat to the Belgians.
The Scots sit fourth in Group I after four matches and are still to play the Russians twice and favourites Belgium at home.
THE FULL SQUAD
GOALKEEPERS: David Marshall, Jon McLaughlin, Craig MacGillivray;
DEFENDERS: Liam Cooper, Grant Hanley, Charlie Mulgrew, Stephen O’Donnell, Liam Palmer, Andy Robertson, Greg Taylor;
MIDFIELDERS: JAMES FORREST, RYAN CHRISTIE, CALLUM McGREGOR, Stuart Armstrong, Ryan Jack, John McGinn, Kenny McLean, Scott McTominay, Ryan Fraser;
FORWARDS: Oli McBurnie, Steven Naismith, Matt Phillips and Johnny Russell