Stark right to claim St Johnstone man deserves Scotland call up

As we head into yet another international break, Albion Rover assistant manager Billy Stark has made the claim that a St Johnstone youngster is worthy of a Scotland call up.

Michael O’Halloran has been impressing not only Stark, but spectators across the Ladbrokes Scottish Premiership, and a national selection isn’t out of the realms of possibility.

After struggling to breakthrough in England during spells at Bolton Wanderers, Sheffield United, Carlisle United and Tranmere Rovers, he is now finding his feet in his homeland and Gordon Strachan should be paying attention.

The 24-year-old has scored three goals in his last three games, bringing his tally for the season to four, helping the Saints climb to fourth in the table.

Furthermore, Stark knows what he’s talking about when it comes to international pedigree, with the 58-year-old overseeing the Scotland Under 21s for six years.

Starting his U21s reign in 2008, he brought through a lot of quality youngsters until he resigned in 2014 to become the assistant manager of Scottish League One outfit Albion Rovers.

Nine members of the squad picked by Strachan for the games against Poland and Gibraltar were handed their Under 21 debut by Stark, proving his ability to spot talent that can make the step up to the senior side.

Jordan Rhodes, Leigh Griffiths, Kevin McDonald, Grant Hanley, Andrew Robertson, Graeme Shinnie, Graham Dorrans, James Forrest and Johnny Russell make up that nontet, and have all gone on to have successful club careers, whether it be in their homeland or south of the border.

To break into the team, O’Halloran will need to oust the six strikers called up for the last set of internationals, and this may be his only stumbling block to getting called up straight away.

Griffiths is one of the star performers in Scotland this season, while Rhodes, Steven Fletcher, Chris Martin, Steven Naismith and Russell are all playing to a high standard in England, whether in the Premier League or the Championship.

However, it it remains true that Strachan didn’t necessarily trust any of the others outside Fletcher and Naismith so O’Halloran may fair better.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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Dan Ross

After a brief stint as a commentator, Dan took his passion for football into writing and went on to gain an NCTJ in sports journalism. A lifelong Walsall fan, he's followed the Saddlers through the highs, getting to Wembley for the first time ever last season, and the lows, namely relegation to League Two in 2006.