James McArthur isn’t set to turn 31 until October but if Scotland boss Alex McLeish’s latest comments are anything to go by, the Palace midfielder may well have indirectly ended his international career by deciding to sit out the next international break.
After starting all three of Palace’s opening Premier League matches, James will miss the Tartan Army’s friendly with Belgium as well as their Nations League curtain-raiser against Albania in September; a decision which has prompted McLeish to go public with a declaration that the former Wigan man will be left out in the cold if a winning solution can be found without him.
Given his age, you’d assume Jimmy would be able to cope with playing regularly at both club and international level for the time-being but with Scotland failing to set the world alight in recent years, there’s a good chance that he views an elongated Premier League as more important than another failed qualification campaign under McLeish.
With a level-head I can certainly understand the Scotland boss’ frustration with McArthur’s call but from a purely selfish perspective, I can’t pretend I’m sad to see him sitting out the upcoming international fixtures. Whilst Roy Hodgson has strengthened the Palace midfield with the signings of Max Meyer, Cheikhou Kouyaté and Jordan Ayew, McArthur’s presence in the side remains central to our overall game-plan.
A tireless worker with an eye for goal, Jimmy has been one of the gaffer’s most trusted squad members since he first stepped foot in dugout last September. He may not have the same sort of reputation attributed to Yohan Cabaye, Luka Milivojevic or new-boy Meyer but as anyone who watches football regularly will know, you need your fair share of grafters if you want your brightest talents to flourish from week to week.
Is McArthur good enough to start for Scotland? Undoubtedly. Does that mean he should run himself into the ground? Not in my book.