GORDON Strachan, the Scotland manager, last night admitted that Callum McGregor, the on-form Celtic midfielder, had been unfortunate to be overlooked for his squad for the Russia 2018 qualifier against England next month.

McGregor, who has helped Brendan Rodgers’s side qualify for the Champions League and win the Betfred Cup and Ladbrokes Premiership this season, had been expected to be called up ahead of the match at Hampden on Saturday, June 10.

But the 23-year-old has been omitted from the 29 man pool for the Group F match against Gareth Southgate’s undefeated section leaders because Strachan didn’t feel he would start.

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McGregor’s club mates Stuart Armstrong and Scott Brown played in the 1-0 win over Slovenia in Glasgow and Barry Bannan, Darren Fletcher, James McArthur and James Morrison can all play in central midfield. Further forward, Morrison, Steven Naismith and Robert Snodgrass can all play just off a lone striker.

Elsewhere, Oliver Burke, who became his country’s most expensive player when he signed for German club RB Leipzig for £13 million last year, has also been left out.

“These midfielders are really unfortunate,” said Strachan. “If you go and watch Kevin McDonald playing for Fulham he does alright as well. There are a couple of midfield players who you see and think: ‘Oh, that’s a shame’.

“But we are strong in there, we really are strong in there. I wouldn’t want to bring along people who I didn’t think had a chance of playing.”

Strachan also feels that Burke, the 20-year-old winger, needs to get more games and revealed he would feature for the Scotland Under-20 side in the Toulon Tournament later this month.

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“I think the expectation from myself, the media and fans has maybe put too much on him,” he said. “He’s only made something like 23 starts in his career so I think the expectation on him was maybe too much.

“Speaking to Malky (SFA Performance Director Mackay) the other week we thought the three games in Toulon would be great for him. I don’t think he’s played three games in close proximity.

“It’s a good level of competition where he can be free and enjoy himsel. He’s going to be a top player, that’s for sure. But he needs games.”

Strachan, who has called up Aberdeen pair Kenny McLean and Mark Reynolds and Brighton forward Jamie Murphy, confirmed he would cut his squad to 23 following the William Hill Scottish Cup final between Celtic and Aberdeen on Saturday. “We’ve got 29 there just to cover all bases,” he said. “You never know what’s going to happen in the cup final. We’ve got eight players there.