STEVE Clarke’s revelation last week that he has held positive dialogue with players who had not been involved in the Scotland set-up under his predecessor Alex McLeish was hailed by many as a hugely positive development for the national team.

But will individuals who had previously announced their retirement from international football or had declined to be selected for a variety of spurious reasons returning to the fold in future really help to revive the Euro 2020 qualifying bid?

Could their involvement in future possibly even do more harm to the national team’s bid to reach a major tournament finals for the first time since France ’98 than good?

Clarke declined to specify who he had spoken to as he announced a decidedly understrength 27-man squad for the Group I double header against Cyprus and Belgium. It is, though, not especially difficult to work out who he had contacted after being appointed amid widespread rejoicing last month.

Tom Cairney, the Fulham midfielder who had been tipped to switch allegiances to England earlier this season, and David Marshall, the Hull City goalkeeper who has been linked with a summer move to newly-crowned Champions League winners Liverpool, were both recalled so they were obviously two of them.

Elsewhere, James McArthur, Matt Ritchie and Robert Snodgrass will almost certainly have received calls from Clarke. So, too, will Steven Fletcher even though he is being allowed to sit out the forthcoming fixtures at the end of a long hard campaign. Barry Bannan, who has been overlooked on this occasion, may also have been treated to a quick chinwag.

Liam Cooper, the Leeds United centre half and captain whose repeated omission from the Scotland set-up has been puzzling given that he is playing regularly and consistently well in the Championship in England, was certainly spoken to and would have been involved had he not been injured.

Could James Morrison, who was never selected by McLeish, even have been contacted? The West Brom midfielder’s abilities are well known to the new man at the helm having worked with him at The Hawthorns. Nothing should be ruled out.

Clarke, the former Newcastle, Chelsea, Liverpool and Aston Villa assistant and West Brom and Reading manager, has detected an ill-feeling among the older members of the set-up about being marginalised by McLeish after speaking to many of the no-shows. He seems intent on healing any festering wounds.

“Some of the more senior ones felt after the (Russia 2018) qualifying campaign under Gordon (Strachan) they’d been pushed aside a wee bit,” he said. “That’s something we can work on. Hopefully in the next 10 days, I’ll come out with a better understanding of what might have been the issues that caused the last camp to be quite negative.”

Many members of the Tartan Army would welcome the involvement of McArthur, Ritchie and Snodgrass, three players who ply their trade in the Premier League for Crystal Palace, Newcastle United and West Ham respectively and have vast experience, going forward.

There is, however, much to be said for giving young, fully fit and hungry players their opportunity. Returning to the tried and tested at this stage could prove to be a retrograde step.

McLeish suffered some disappointing results and heavy defeats after taking over from his former Aberdeen and Scotland team mate Strachan as he attempted to faze out the old guard and blood up-and-coming hopefuls. But it is undeniable that Scott Bain, David Bates, Ryan Christie, Ryan Fraser, Callum McGregor, Scott McKenna, Scott McTominay and John Souttar all came to the fore on his watch.

The commitment of Ritchie, who qualifies to play for this country because his father was born here, has to be questioned. There were doubts about whether his heart was really in it long before McLeish took over. His performances, too, were often wanting. Yes, there was that stunning strike against Poland in a Euro 2016 qualifier at Hampden. But that apart it is hard to be especially effusive about his past contribution.

Snodgrass is another curious case. He has been a sensational performer in the dark blue of his homeland in the past and has scored some important goals. He would, if fit and focused, be a potent weapon in the final third. But, at 31, does he still have the desire? Does he have the legs to juggle club and country commitments? Would he really be content to come away and warm the bench?

Then there is McArthur. He announced in October that he had to focus on playing for Palace in order to prolong his career at the highest level due to a back problem. If he goes back on that decision now what exactly are we to believe?

No, it is time to move on. My own Scotland starting XI would, with everyone fit and available, comprise Bain, Kieran Tierney, Souttar, Charlie Mulgrew, Andy Robertson, John McGinn, Stuart Armstrong, James Forrest, McGregor, Ryan Fraser and Leigh Griffiths.

Bates, Oliver Burke, Cairney, John Fleck, Fletcher, Ryan Jack, Marshall, Kenny McLean, Oliver McBurnie, McKenna, Marc McNulty, McTominay, Steven Naismith, Stephen O’Donnell and Johnny Russell would provide more than adequate back-up.

What exactly is the need to beg ageing players who have turned their backs on their nation to come back in and try and recapture former glories with those professionals so keen to feature?

Were any of them successful getting Scotland to a European Championship or World Cup before?