Allan McGregor has decided to retire from international football.
The 37-year-old Rangers goalkeeper announced the end of his Scotland career on the eve of manager Alex McLeish naming his first squad for the 2020 European Championship qualifiers.
He kept 16 clean sheets in 42 internationals and his final contribution proved vital as a brilliant one-handed stop secured a 3-2 win over Israel in November and top spot in Nations League Group C1.
McGregor said in a statement on the Scottish Football Association website: “It’s a sad day for me to bring an end to my international career, but unfortunately I feel it is a decision I have to make.
“I am playing over 50 games each season, but I know my body and at this stage of my career I need to use the international breaks to rest up to help ensure that I play at the top level for as long as possible.
“This decision was an extremely hard one for me to make.
“It is also the start of a new campaign and it feels like the right time to step aside and allow the number of strong options we have to push on from here between the sticks.
“I would like to thank the manager and all of the coaching staff for their understanding – they’ve been incredible with me. It was Alex McLeish who handed me my international and club debuts, so it almost feels fitting to bring an end to my Scotland career with his support too.
“I have so many brilliant memories, from my first time pulling on the jersey 12 years ago, to our most recent success in the UEFA Nations League. I would also like to thank the Scotland fans for all of their incredible support over the years.”
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McLeish paid tribute to McGregor and his numerous contributions to the Scotland team.
“Time and again, he has proven himself to be a top performer for his country. His save late on against Israel was crucial in our UEFA Nations League success and it is fitting that he bows out on such a high.
“We will miss his experience around the squad, but we respect that he does not feel able to continue to represent both his club and country and wish him all the best for the future.”
The manager now faces a dilemma with previous first choice Craig Gordon playing understudy to Scott Bain at Celtic.
Bain’s only cap came in a friendly defeat in Mexico last summer but he was called up to McLeish’s most recent squad after Gordon pulled out injured.
Sunderland’s Jon McLaughlin pulled out of that squad, too, because of club commitments but his team have no fixture clash with Scotland’s opening Euro 2020 games against Kazakhstan and San Marino on March 21 and 24.
Kilmarnock’s Jamie MacDonald was called up in his place but has been on the bench for his club in recent months, while St Johnstone’s Zander Clark’s chances of a first call-up have been hit by a hamstring injury. Millwall’s Jordan Archer has also featured in McLeish’s squads.
Southampton’s Angus Gunn is under consideration and it is believed the former England U21 goalie is open to switching allegiance.
Leeds United are interested in signing Angus Gunn and David Stockdale this summer, as Marcelo Bielsa plans to bring a new goalkeeper to Elland Road.
Bielsa was recently appointed manager of the Yorkshire club, succeeding Paul Heckingbottom after his sacking at the end of last season.
The Argentine arrived at Leeds’ Thorpe Arch training ground on Monday for his first day in charge, and he admitted in his first press conference that he was not planning on making too many signings this summer.
“For the moment we are not intending to bring too many new faces in,” Bielsa said. “From my point of view the club have plenty of players on the books who I believe we should keep. The club generally have 15 players more than we need and we still have four or five different positions where we need to strengthen.”
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However, a new goalkeeper is believed to be one of Bielsa’s priorities, and a report in the Yorkshire Evening Postsays Leeds are courting Angus Gunn, the Manchester City glovesman, and David Stockdale of Birmingham City.
Stockdale, 32, made 39 appearances for Birmingham last season, having moved to St Andrew’s on a free transfer from Brighton in summer 2017.
England Under-21 international Gunn is currently contracted to Manchester City, but he spent 2017/18 on loan at Leeds’ Championship rivals Norwich, with whom he kept 15 clean sheets in 46 league matches.
Leeds have just two goalkeepers on their books right now, Andy Lonergan and youngster Bailey Peacock-Farrell, as Felix Wiedwald left Elland Road for Eintracht Frankfurt of the Bundesliga earlier this month.