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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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KriSaint added 10:42 - Sep 29
All in all let's hope Armstrong has been given the all clear to start training and this just coincidently has happened at the exactly same time Steve Clarke was picking his squad. And that Armstrong is training with Saints today and ready for selection on saturday after a hand full of training sessions.
Why would Ralph keep Stuey out when the team so badly need an offensive flair player with pace?
Answer: Ralph wouldn't!

Colburn added 11:13 - Sep 29
The reason for the poor PR is because there is no leadership at the club. 4 points from 27 (28) games and no win this season and not a word of support from our owners to the fans..
I really don't think they care about their 'customers' nor the local area or anything other than the odd virtue signal. They had a huge opportunity to help the struggling young people in this city two years ago and ignored it.. Enough said..

JoeEgg added 11:16 - Sep 29
I fear that the answer is quite simple. Just like Ings and Vestergard before him, Stuart Armstrong has lost all confidence in our manager and wants to leave the club.
There really can be no other explanation and not for the first time we are left guessing about the non'appearance of a player.
We now have players like Walker Peters, Redmond and JWP playing in strange positions and no doubt getting more and more frustrated by the game. How much longer will the Club give Ralph to sort this mess out? Understandably the club's patience must be wearing thin. I have suggested that if Ralph is to survive the club should place immedia-tely an experienced assistant alongside him. The dreadful Academy (B team) results confirm that all is not well right down the football line.
Give Ralph more time? Three years and counting....................?

saintmark1976 added 11:35 - Sep 29
“Perhaps I’m being harsh here, but PR wise we rarely take the bull by the horns”. You’re not being harsh at all Nick, for once you are telling it as it is rather than attempting to support the Club’s owners and senior management when all the evidence points in the opposite direction.

What other commercial organisation would send me an email asking me to buy season tickets and then when I want to purchase them by bank card, repeatedly refuse to answer the ticket office telephone time without number?

Stuart Armstrong gives every impression of being an intelligent guy, ( wasn’t he studying for a law degree? ) if he’s not injured I would not be the least bit surprised to find he has fallen out with Ralph. I can’t add further to JoeEgg’s reasoning as to why.

felly1 added 13:53 - Sep 29
Similar to SaintMark1976, we have had issues with our season tickets and they do not work at the turnstiles and the stewards have to let us in. Against West Ham they had sold paper tickets to other fans in our seats!
We have rung and emailed the club and had no reply at all. It makes you feel like the club is a shambles from top to bottom at the moment.
Our best players leaving and Armstrong could be just fed up with our lack of ambition or possibly as suggested Ralph's tactics. Ultimately we'll probably never know and I just hope results pick up otherwise I fear we could be in free fall and do a "Sunderland"

highfield49 added 16:30 - Sep 29
Is the PR/Head of Communications still Jordan Sibley? If he's still got the job then I think he's been there since 2007. The fact that most supporters will never have heard of him probably speaks volumes about his ability, unless I'm being too harsh on the man. Maybe he's been told not to communicate with the supporters, in which case he's doing an excellent job.

SaintPaulVW added 19:37 - Sep 29
He was called up for the last Scotland game and was subsequently confirmed as unavailable due to injury.

I'm staying with that chain of events playing out again until I hear that Stuart has Defriended Ralph on Facebook.

sandywelsh added 08:49 - Sep 30
Southampton have not won a Premier League game without Armstrong in the side since December 2019.

Peterx added 19:39 - Sep 30
Bottom line is we need Stuart Armstrong back in the side ASAP

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