OF the many striking things about the current Scotland squad, the lack of a strong Old Firm presence is notable.

The rising level of player that the country is producing coupled with the changing dynamics of the transfer market can explain much of that, of course. Young Scottish players can be attracted away from the country before they are established even at first team level here, with clubs abroad often able to offer money and opportunity that even the Glasgow giants cannot compete with.

The Scotland team that defeated Cyprus on Friday evening had only one player from either Celtic or Rangers within it, with Celtic captain Callum McGregor anchoring the midfield alongside Billy Gilmour.

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Ryan Jack and John Souttar were the only Rangers representatives in the entire squad originally, before Robby McCrorie was called up as a late replacement as third-choice keeper for the injured Liam Kelly.

The likes of Gilmour and Nathan Patterson were of course lured away from Ibrox before the senior team could really benefit from their talents, but the diminished stature of the Old Firm in football’s oft-referenced financial food chain only partly explains why there aren’t more talented Scots at Celtic Park or Ibrox.

In fairness to Celtic, they have signed the likes of Greg Taylor and David Turnbull in recent years, players who have gone on to make an impact. But they also lost out on John McGinn, perhaps the star of Steve Clarke’s Scotland side, when they wouldn’t pony up £3m for his services.

This is the same club who went on to spend a similar sum on the likes of Patryk Klimala, Boli Bolingoli and Ismaila Soro, and significantly more on flops like Vasilis Barkas and Albian Ajeti.

Over at Ibrox, the lack of Scots in Michael Beale’s team has been drawn into sharper focus because things are not going to plan after his summer rebuild.

When things go awry on the field, people often look to see what is missing. An average player who has a long-term injury, and thus becomes better in the imagination with each passing defeat, for instance. It is too simplistic though to say that a core of Scots is essential to success, or a reason for the lack of it.

Walter Smith cleaned up the mess left by Paul Le Guen by recruiting a raft of experienced Scots, players who – to use some hoary football phraseology - ‘knew what the club was about’, and ‘knew the Scottish game’.

But Steven Gerrard won the league with Allan McGregor and Jack being the only real Scottish mainstays in his team, and outside of McGregor and Taylor on the other side of Glasgow, the stars of Celtic’s successful sides of late have mainly been foreigners.

But a question that is certainly worth asking is how much money both sides have wasted over the years on bringing in players from abroad who are more expensive, but not necessarily more talented, than those in the local pool?

Would Rangers, for instance, have been better served having £4m recruit Ben Davies at centre-back, or Ryan Porteous, who they could have got for an eighth of the price? Would Lawrence Shankland not be a more reliable and regular scorer of goals than £6m man Danilo, Cyriel Dessers or Sam Lammers?

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Those players may well come good, of course, but Shankland was a proven goalscorer at the level who would have come at a fraction of the cost of any one of them, and who would likely have hit the ground running.

Lewis Ferguson is one who would likely now be out of Rangers’ price range as he stars for Bologna in Serie A. But why did Rangers deem that £3m was too much to bring him to Ibrox from Aberdeen, when they spent a similar sum on Juninho Bacuna?

The list goes on. Josh Doig was too expensive at a little over a million from Hibernian, but Ridvan Yilmaz wasn’t at around four times that?

Having a smattering of Scottish players in the first team may not be a prerequisite for success, but there is little doubt that there is talent available here well within Rangers’ price range that could easily fare better than some of their more expensive imports. As many of them are going on to show as part of the national team set-up.

Is it snobbery? A feeling that the fans want exotic sounding names? A delusion that these players will enable them to compete at the top level in Europe, when those playing for more ‘unfashionable’ clubs like Aberdeen, Hibs and Hearts may not?

Who knows. Maybe it is for the good of the Scotland national team as a whole that many of the country’s young talents are now broadening their horizons and becoming more rounded players as a result of challenging themselves in different leagues across Europe, in any case.

But there is little doubt that Celtic and Rangers have not only missed out on hugely capable Scottish talent in recent times, but have cost themselves a fair few bob in the process.