sport

Phillips' time will come - PH

Scotland assistant manager Peter Houston has no doubts Matt Phillips will don the dark blue jersey in the near future and for years to come.

The England Under-20 international, who has lodged his change of allegiance with FIFA, has pulled out of Wednesday's friendly in Slovenia after missing Blackpool's weekend win over Bristol City due to a hamstring injury.

Despite being effectively ruled out previously by club manager Ian Holloway, Phillips reported to Scotland's hotel in Renfrewshire on Sunday for medical checks and posed for photos in Scotland's new white away kit on Monday morning.

The 20-year-old will not travel to Slovenia but Houston expects him to be included in Craig Levein's squad when Scotland face the USA in Florida on May 26.

Levein got the Aylesbury-born player on board after his Scots-born grandfather tipped off a journalist about his eligibility.

Houston said: "Speaking to the lad last night at the dinner table, and Craig has had many chats with him, he is fully committed.

"Let me tell you that, he will be a Scotland player in the near future.

"It might not happen this week obviously but I fully expect Matty Phillips to be on the plane to America, hopefully with no injuries, and we can see him in a Scotland jersey.

"What an exciting prospect to see James Forrest on one side and Matty Phillips on the other side with pace and energy.

"I always think at international level you need a bit of pace in the right areas to hurt teams."

Another to vouch for the commitment of Phillips is current Blackpool team-mate Danny Wilson, who is on loan at Bloomfield Road from Liverpool.

Wilson, on Scotland Under-21 duty this week, said: "A lot of people have said he has chosen to play for us because maybe England didn't want him but I don't think that's the case. He chose to play for us before he spoke about England.

"When I first went to Blackpool, there are a lot of Scottish boys there and we had a (Scotland) seven-a-side team and for some reason Matty was in the team.

"I didn't understand why but he said: 'I can play for Scotland'.

"It's good for Scotland he has committed himself to us because he has been excellent for us (Blackpool). In my first game he scored a hat-trick.

"He has got great running power, good pace, he is strong, a great athlete, but he is also good on the ball. He makes good decisions in the attacking third.

"He is one of our top goalscorers this season and for a winger that's pretty decent.

"It's good he he has chosen to play for Scotland and the management have convinced him because he has the ability to go far with us.

"We don't have a great number of wingers, we have wee Jamesy but Matt is a different style of winger."

Scotland have also lost Celtic midfielder Scott Brown and Sunderland full-back Phil Bardsley, with Wigan's James McArthur coming in, but Houston was delighted with their attitude in also reporting for medical assessment.

"The thing that amazes me is that Phil Bardsley travelled up and he has maybe got a calf tear," the Dundee United manager said.

"Broony had his dinner with us last night and he's got a groin strain and missed Celtic's match.

"It says a lot for the guys to travel here when we know they are injured and struggling big-time. Matty Phillips is desperately keen."

Another player who is keen to play for Scotland, but not getting the chance, is Leeds striker Ross McCormack.

McCormack, who has not been involved since the Carling Nations Cup in May despite scoring 16 goals for Leeds this season, last week expressed his frustration at being overlooked.

Houston said: "I spoke to Craig and Craig feels a bit sorry for him.

"He is scoring goals, he is a good player, Ross has been in before.

"But he also feels that the likes of Craig Mackail-Smith has done him a turn in the past, he had an excellent game in Spain up front on his own. He mirrored Kenny Miller's type of performance there.

"We've got Jamie Mackie who can play that role as well.

"So Ross is a bit unfortunate and Craig recognises that.

"The door isn't closed on Ross McCormack because he's not in this squad.

"Ross McCormack could have a big future ahead in more important games if he keeps up his form because I know Craig still rates him as a player.

"He just feels the players he has picked are just slightly ahead of him just now."

Meanwhile, Houston did not want to discuss another absent player, Wolves striker Steven Fletcher.

The former Hibernian player has had no contact with Levein since asking not to be considered for the clash with Northern Ireland a year ago via a text message.

Houston said: "We've got to look forward. We have spoken about that a million times.

"It keeps getting brought up but I think we have to put it away and look forward.

"The way to move forward is not to think about one individual. We have got to work as a group to win matches for Scotland."