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Ritchie gets Scotland call-up
By Craig Turnbull

Bournemouth winger Matt Ritchie is a surprise inclusion in Gordon Strachan’s 26-man Scotland squad for the friendly against Northern Ireland and Euro 2016 qualifier versus Gibraltar.

Ritchie, 25, was born in Gosport, England but qualifies for Scotland through his father, Alex and will be hoping to impress in his first call-up to the national team.

The winger has been in fine form for the English Championship side, having scored 11 goals this season and it was this type of quality which caught the eye of the Scotland boss.

“Between himself and Bournemouth they have dragged themselves into our vision. I have watched them a lot and Matt has been integral to their success, they are a smashing side,” Strachan said at Hampden on Monday.

“He likes to play the way we like to play, a good passer of the ball, determination and willingness to learn so that is good for us.

“When we have seen Matt he has never failed. It is not a trial basis, if you don’t play well in your first international it doesn’t mean to say you don’t get another game, it is nothing like that. It is a longer picture.”

They were also recalls for Celtic winger James Forrest and strikers Jordan Rhodes and Ross McCormack. However, Gary Mackay-Steven and Stuart Armstrong missed out.

When asked about their omission, Strachan said: “First of all you have to say, have they kicked on? Or are they same player they were five or six months ago.

“We picked these players over a year ago, and there are other players who will probably think they will have a good chance of being in.

“I could probably think of about 10/12 who might be in that so we might have 13/14 who can count themselves a wee bit unlucky not to be in.”

On Forrest’s recall, Strachan added: “It is great to have James along. He did well when he came on yesterday. He has the ability to do things that other people can’t do.

“He has the ability to do things that other people cant do. He can eliminate players and it’s so beneficial in the modern game.

“The art of beating people is s real plus and it will be great to have him along.”