Garry O'Connor could be recalled to the Scotland squad for the Euro 2008 qualification double-header against Georgia and Italy this month.

The national manager, Alex McLeish, accepted the striker's apology for non-attendance at Scotland's defeat to the Ukraine and has urged the Tartan Army to give him a second chance.

The 23-year-old disappeared without the consent of the previous manager, Walter Smith, hours after Scotland's victory against France. He failed to report for duty in Kiev and explained himself only last week, four months later.

His former manager at Hibernian has shown leniency in his first major decision since succeeding Smith. The Lokomotiv Moscow striker will now try to win a place for the games at Hampden and Bari on March 24 and 28.

"Garry is a young guy who has made his apologies," said McLeish as he opened a new £10m multi-sports facility at Meggetland, in Edinburgh.

"I don't want to see a young player wasting his career. He's a guy with fantastic ability and a good opportunity to realise his potential. It's still early days, he's still a young player, and he's still got a lot to learn.

"I haven't spoken to him personally but it has been done and his return depends on how he is doing. From what I gather, Walter was not bothered about him apologising to him personally.

"I will not guarantee him anything but he knows he let the squad down and the nation down. He is not the finished article at any level and I'm sure there are many people who have made a mistake and would like the opportunity of a second chance."

Scotland will have to do without the services of James McFadden after the Everton attacker was ruled out with a broken metatarsal. The 23-year-old, who was suspended for the Georgia match, had his hopes of playing against Italy dashed by the head physio at Goodison Park.

"James McFadden is four weeks away," said Mick Rathbone. "He will have another X-ray in two weeks' time and, hopefully, will be able to start some jogging after that."

McLeish is monitoring the form of Chris Armstrong and Nick Montgomery of Sheffield United after being tipped off by Stuart McCall, the assistant manager, about their eligibility to represent Scotland.

"He mentioned them and said they have done really well. We now have to look at them," said McLeish. "That is not to say they will be in the squad but we are aware of them."

The return to fitness of Gary Naysmith and Jackie McNamara will replenish the full-back options. Naysmith has only recently returned to the Everton starting line-up, while McNamara has overcome a horrendous series of problems to establish himself at Wolves.

"Gary Naysmith played last weekend and did well while Jackie McNamara has been playing at left-back and doing very well according to reports we are getting. We will cover one of their games before we name the squad," said McLeish.

Kris Boyd's contribution to Rangers' emphatic 4-0 win against Hapoel Tel Aviv underlined his credentials to the manager who signed him for £400,000 from Kilmarnock in January 2005. In that time, Boyd has scored 41 goals for the club and McLeish revealed he recently extolled his virtues with another famed predator.

"I met former West Ham striker Tony Cottee recently and he told me the same thing was always said about him, that he didn't do this or that, but he had a helluva habit of putting the ball in the back of the net," said McLeish.

"Kris has to take things with a pinch of salt but doesn't seem to be affected. If he gets a chance in front of goal he is more than likely to put it away. There are born scorers and there are strikers who can do other things. Nobody's perfect."

Meanwhile, McLeish says Celtic can go one better than his record-breaking Rangers side and reach the Champions League quarter-finals.

"Not conceding an away goal is vital, it's always the same in a knockout situation," he said, mindful of the costly 2-2 draw at Ibrox against Villarreal in the last 16 last season.

"If Celtic get through it will be phenomenal for Scottish football. It would be a great achievement, thinking about Celtic first and foremost, and would have a great impact on the game in general here."