Stuart Armstrong Scotland Call Up Prompts Supporter Speculation
Wednesday, 29th Sep 2021 09:22
With the the Premier League season approaching 7 weeks old, Stuart Armstrong is yet to make an appearance for Southampton, yet he has been called up for the Scotland squad, a strange situation that asks questions whether Armstrong is actually not injured at all.
Scotland have two games in the forthcoming International break, Israel at home and the Faroe Islands away and manager Steve Clarke has named his squad for the games, Che Adams is a no brainer, he has starred for the Scots since his conversion to being Scottish
But the selection of his Saints team mate Stuart Armstrong is a big surprise, not just because although a regular in Clarke's squad, although not always first choice, he has been injured for the last 7 weeks at least.
For International duty the ruling is that if a player has been out injured with his club, then he is not called up for International duty, if he is then the club has the right to block that call up.
Armstrong returned to the Saints squad after the European Championships fit, he played in Saints second pre season friendly and scored getting 73 minutes under his belt.
He didn't appear in the next friendly against Levante, but that was a split squad between that game and the Athletic Club Of Bilbao game a few days later, Armstrong started that game and got 90 minutes under his belt.
So all looked good for the first game against Everton a week later, but the Scot wasn't in the starting line up at Goodison Park, he was on the bench and there he stayed, as Saints chased the game late on and brought off Theo Walcott & Romain Perraud it wasn't Armstrong they turned too but Nathan Redmond & Nathan Tella.
Armstrong wasn't even on the bench for the game against Manchester United the following week and he hasn't featured since.
Initially Saints managed Ralph Hasenhuttl described it as a minor tweak and that the player should be fit after the international break at the start of September, but here we are 4 weeks later and aside from the odd snippet that it it is taking longer to heal and won't be too long now, the silence has been deafening.
But back in August rumours abounded that the player himself wanted to leave the club, that he wanted to return to Scotland, presumably that meant a return to Celtic as they would be the only Scottish club who could afford both his transfer fee and wages aside from Rangers who it would be difficult to sign for having played for their great rivals.
These rumours could have been easily scotched, a quick interview on the Saints official website is normal in these situations, where the player talks about his frustration in being out and his desire to get back in training and back into first team action.
But the truth is nothing, the last mention of Armstrong in a headline story on the website was on August 26th when it was announced that he would miss the Newcastle United game, so that is 5 weeks of silence on the situation since then.
On the same day Armstrong also pulled out of the Scotland squad due to injury.
Since then there have been stories about various other injured Saints players returning to training, Theo Walcott & Will Smallbone to name but two, but nothing about Armstrong or his rehabilitation.
Saints supporters love a good conspiracy theory and this one has been a whisper so far, but the players inclusion in the Scotland squad adds fuel to the fire on this one.
Why would Steve Clarke name Stuart Armstrong in his Scotland squad for the upcoming games in October is the big question ?
The player has been injured for the best part of two months and in that time has failed to play a game of football at any level for Saints, what is the point !
Steve Clarke or one of his staff would surely have spoken to the player and asked about his fitness levels and would also be aware that having not played in Saints previous games due to injury, the club itself would be within it's rights to block the call up.
One media report suggests that Scotland boss Steve Clarke has been told that Armstrong is back in training for his club and so is hopeful that the 28-year-old to play against Chelsea this weekend.
From this perspective Southampton themselves would not be likely to allow a player injured to go train & play for Scotland so soon after his comeback, they would want him to remain with the club check and monitor for any adverse reaction and continue his treatment programme, not risk a relapse by playing an international match after two months out.
This has led to speculation that Armstrong is not injured at all and so is fit to play and that being the case Scotland are within their rights to call up a player who is just not currently in his club's first team.
This leads to further speculation that the player is in dispute with the club or it's manager and perhaps both, that so far it has been kept under wraps, but now the player himself has brought matters to a head, by telling Scotland he is fit to play and being named in the squad.
After all Saints can't block a fit player from an international call up, unless they have a good reason to do so ie he is refusing to play for the club and that being the case they should have suspended him.
Assuming he hasn't been suspended he is quite within his rights to go and play for Scotland.
I have to say here that the player himself has never shown tendencies to be disruptive or troublesome to my knowledge.
This all seems perfectly plausible when you ponder the question why on earth otherwise would Steve Clarke call up a player who has seemingly not kicked a ball even in training for two months.
Truth is this could have been all put to bed over the past month or so, as I said the odd interview with the player himself would have sufficed, but there has been nothing, having said that if there is one thing that Saints are bad at it is PR, they don't seem to be able to grasp the concept of what they need to tell the fans, hence this week we have had a video of Tino Livramento & Dynel Simeu pointing at a wall of photos and reminiscing about their Chelsea days, but nothing about Stuart Armstrong.
Perhaps i am being harsh here, but PR wise we rarely take the bull by the horns.
As I said the supporters of this football club love a good conspiracy theory, if something happens it is never that simple, Kevin Keegan's departure 39 years ago was just one of those where the fans back then accused Saints of delaying the announcement till after the season ticket renewal deadline.
We just never think that things are simple in any event surrounding Southampton FC.
I don't know whether Stuart Armstrong is fit or injured, I am surprised that given medical science these days that a simple calf strain should take two months to heal, but then again that could just be the club playing down a long term injury to keep morale up.
So we will perhaps soon find out the situation at Saints regarding Stuart Armstrong, what will the reaction be to the call up, will Saints make him withdraw from the squad, will the player himself demand to join up with his country.
Or finally perhaps this could just be Steve Clarke showing a little compassion for a player who has been out injured for so long and inviting him to join up with the squad to boost Armstrong's own morale with no intention of making him train or play, that too is feasible, Scotland aren't blessed with talent and Clarke has room in his squad for that sort of gesture.
I truly hope that this is the case, that Stuart Armstrong is raring to go and this is a boost for his comeback that is near, but if that is the case Steve Clarke is a lot more on the ball with regards to PR etc than Southampton Football Club are.
Photo: Action Images
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