Steve Clarke fails to explain why Celtic's David Turnbull didn't make Scotland squad

By David Walton

March 16, 2021

Steve Clarke failed to give a sound reason for why Celtic midfielder David Turnbull failed to make his squad today.

The Scotland boss’ squad for the upcoming World Cup qualifiers this month saw the in-form Turnbull miss out. He follows Celtic striker Leigh Griffiths in failing to make the cut whilst out-on-loan Jack Hendry was selected.

Instead, the likes of Ryan Jack, Kenny McLean, and John Fleck have been selected ahead of David. That’s despite the fact Turnbull has been the outstanding midfielder in Scottish football in 2021. So far this term, Turnbull has eight goals and six assists in 31 appearances [Transfermarkt].

Clarke was asked about his decisions on the Celtic players today. And speaking on Sky Sports News [13:05], he produced an embarrassingly generic answer about Turnbull as decided to go into more detail on Hendry and Griffiths:

“A good player”

“Midfield is a really strong area. David is a good player. Got into the Celtic team. He’s doing really well and is one for the future and one to keep an eye on.”

“Jack’s a player that I’ve known from my time working in Scotland. I thought he was a good prospect at Dundee, and he moved to Celtic and it didn’t work out for him. But he showed good maturity, grabbed the bull by the horns and gone away to try and restart his career. He’s playing at a good level. Unfortunately it’s not been possible to watch him in Belgium live. Sometimes the best way to pick up a player and find out how he is with the squad is to get him into the squad and watch him in training.

“I think for Leigh it’s well documented that he’s not getting much game-time at Celtic. I’ve spoken to all the boys that were in the last squad and not in this squad. We’ve had good private conversations and they know what to expect and know what to do to try and get back into the squad. Leigh is one of those players.”

Clarke clearly didn’t want to discuss David Turnbull too much

It was interesting to see how quickly Clarke wanted to move on from the Turnbull question. He even put more effort into answering the question on Leigh Griffiths.

Why that is is anyone’s guess. After all, he must have a genuine reason for his decision in terms of a footballing one. Why not simply let us know in a footballing context why David has to miss out? Clarke explained absolutely nothing here.

David Turnbull in action for Celtic / (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

And it doesn’t bode well for David’s Euro 2021 chances either. Despite the fact it looks like he’s going to have an incredible six months leading up to the tournament, his chances look in tatters now. He has no opportunity to impress Clarke up close – that’s what these World Cup qualifiers would’ve represented. The chance to work his way into Clarke’s thoughts.

Instead, he’ll be wondering what he has to do. After all, Turnbull can’t shine any more than he has done over the last several months. Hopefully, Clarke has been in touch personally with him to explain his decision.

As for Hendry, this is terrific for the centre-back. His season on loan with KV Oostende couldn’t have gone more successfully, and this news tops it off.

As for Griffiths, he appears to have been informed by Clarke about what he has to do to get back in the side. Hopefully, Turnbull has been provided some similar instructions.

In other news, a Sheffield United legend clearly isn’t happy after Celtic signed one of their best talents.