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Stark 'covets' Scotland manager role

762   //    07 Nov 2012, 21:23 IST


Barry Bannan has been recalled to Scotland's squad for next week's friendly away in Luxembourg

Aston Villa‘s Scottish midfielder Barry Bannan (R) beats Newcastle United‘s Yohan Cabaye during the Premier League match at Villa Park in Birmingham, September 2011. Bannan has been recalled to Scotland’s squad for next week’s friendly away to Luxembourg.

Billy Stark refused to rule himself out of becoming Scotland’s next full-time manager after naming his first squad as interim boss on Wednesday for next week’s friendly away to Luxembourg.

Under-21 chief Stark was parachuted into a caretaker role with the senior side after the Scottish Football Association sacked former manager Craig Levein on Monday following a run of just three wins in 12 competitive matches, a sequence that has all but ended Scotland’s hopes of qualifying for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil

Former Celtic manager Gordon Strachan is the leading candidate to replace Levein on a full-time basis but Stark said he hadn’t given up on his own hopes of getting the job either.

“I don’t know how that process works in terms of applications,” he said. “I’ve been happy in the Under-21s job and I’m honoured and absolutely delighted to have the faith of the board that I can prove myself capable of taking the team next week.

“I don’t think you rule anything out in football.”

Asked if managing the senior Scotland team was a dream job, he added: “I think it’s a job that every individual would covet.

“I’ve been very proud to be the manager of the Under-21s and I can only imagine that would be exaggerated when you’re in the full job.

“My remit is to take the team through the Luxembourg fixture and that’s all I’m concentrating on.”

There were few surprises in the squad announced by Stark for next week’s friendly, although there were some notable absentees, with Gary Caldwell, Scott Brown, Allan McGregor and Alan Hutton all omitted.

Aston Villa midfielder Barry Bannan was recalled while full-backs Steven Whittaker and Phil Bardsley returned following ankle injuries.

The Scottish Football Association sacked Craig Levein on Monday

Craig Levein, then manager of Scotland, during a 2014 World Cup qualifying match against Macedonia in Glasgow on September 11, 2012. The Scottish Football Association sacked Levein on Monday following a run of just three wins in 12 competitive matches.

Kilmarnock goalkeeper Cammy Bell replaced the absent McGregor, with Stark saying the omission of several regular Scotland internationals was simply down to a decision to rest players.

“For a November friendly, a lot of football has already been played and some players will have niggles they would love the opportunity to shake off,” Stark explained.

“Allan McGregor and Gary Caldwell, in particular, have been real stalwarts and terrific players for the national team in recent years.

“I’ve spoken to them and they were grateful to have the opportunity to have a wee break from this game. There is nothing more to it than that.”

Strachan was asked about the possibility of becoming Scotland manager while working as a pundit on ITV’s Champions League programme on Tuesday.

He said: “It’s quite simple really, it would be an honour to be asked to be the manager of your own national side, it’s terrific.

“I could sit here and say ‘yes, it would be great’ or ‘no, it’s not for me’ but it would also be arrogant of me to answer that if nobody has asked you and presume that someone will ask,” the former Scotland midfielder added.

“I wouldn’t have the arrogance to think that someone is going to knock on my door.”

Strachan, 55, who played under Alex Ferguson at both Aberdeen and Manchester United, enjoyed success during a four-year spell at Celtic from 2005 but has been out of management since leaving English club Middlesbrough in October, 2010.

Scotland squad to play Luxembourg in a friendly international on November 14:

Goalkeepers: Cameron Bell (Kilmarnock), Matt Gilks (Blackpool/ENG), David Marshall (Cardiff/ENG)

Defenders: Phil Bardsley (Sunderland/ENG), Christophe Berra (Wolves/ENG), Grant Hanley (Blackburn/ENG), Charlie Mulgrew (Celtic), Andy Webster (Hearts), Steven Whittaker (Norwich/ENG)

Midfielders: Charlie Adam (Stoke/ENG), Barry Bannan (Aston Villa/ENG), Kris Commons (Celtic), Darren Fletcher (Man Utd/ENG), Shaun Maloney (Wigan/ENG), James Morrison (West Brom/ENG), Matt Phillips (Blackpool/ENG)

Forwards: Steven Fletcher (Sunderland/ENG), Jamie Mackie (QPR/ENG), Kenny Miller (Vancouver Whitecaps/CAN), Steven Naismith (Everton/ENG), Jordan Rhodes (Blackburn/ENG)

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