AROUND two thirds of Scotland players that have pulled out of the international squad in the last year went on to feature for their club side within their next two fixtures.

Call-offs for the national team have been a consistent theme over the last year as fans grow frustrated at an apparent sense of indifference from players towards the international team.

And while some of these late departures are undoubtedly legitimate, there are those among the Tartan Army who question the motives behind those withdrawals.

On 27 occasions, players have either dropped out of or requested not to be included in the national set-up since last November, yet 19 have featured in their club's matchday squad in at least one of the two games immediately after the international break. And, of that 19, 17 have either started or came off the bench during one of those two fixtures.

Nine players started their team's next game, while two more came off the bench in their side's first game after the break.

Two players – James McArthur and Robert Snodgrass – have retired during the last 12 months and are not included as call-offs.

The latest squad announcement has been met with four withdrawals: Leeds United centre-back Liam Cooper, Manchester United midfielder Scott McTominay, Bournemouth winger Ryan Fraser, and Liverpool left-back and Scotland captain Andy Robertson have all pulled out of the latest squad ahead of the upcoming double-header against Cyprus and Kazakhstan.

The majority of drop-outs (20 from 27) over the last 12 months have been by players based in England.

Fraser and Callum Paterson both previously requested – perhaps at the behest of their club sides, it must be stressed – to be left out of the international squad over concerns about playing on the artificial surface used at Kazakhstan's national stadium, the Astana Arena.

When the upcoming fixtures are taken into consideration, Fraser – who is widely considered to be one of Scotland's top players – will have been unavailable for three out of the 10 Euro 2020 qualifying matches. The 25-year-old has missed just two games for Bournemouth in all competitions since the start of the 2018/19 campaign.

Both Steve Clarke and his predecessor, Alex McLeish, have often struggled to field a full-strength side throughout the Euro 2020 qualifying campaign – something which could prove costly when the European Championships play-offs roll around next March.

Hearts striker Steven Naismith spoke earlier this week about the upcoming fixtures against Cyprus and Kazakhstan as an opportunity for the national side to get to grips with Clarke's tactics and to ensure that the squad is well-drilled ahead of the crucial play-off games.

"We’ve got these two games where everyone is fighting for a place in the team effectively," he said. "So the manager is going to have to work out a system he is going to play and whoever plays the best in it will get the chance to play."

But with key players now missing, Clarke will once again have to make do with what tools he has left at his disposal.

Robertson, however, has stressed that there is nothing untoward about the latest call-offs.

“It’s not from a lack of trying from the lads but in terms of injuries it’s never easy and when you do have a small injury then sometimes you need to rest it," Robertson said.

“These decisions are made but it doesn’t make it any easier – we all want to play for our country and I know that from in the squad, but I can see why the perception is maybe like that from the outside.”