Stand-in Stark ready for a senior moment

INTERIM Scotland boss Billy Stark has refused to rule himself out of the running to land the post on a full-time basis.

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Stark will take charge next week
Stark will take charge next week

The current Under-21 gaffer will lead the full squad against Luxembourg next week after being asked to step into the top job in the wake of Craig Levein's sacking on Monday.

While ex-Dark Blues manager Alex McLeish has distanced himself from the position, there are a number of candidates as the SFA board ponder who to place in charge.

Walter Smith, Gordon Strachan and Joe Jordan have all been linked with the job this week, while former Bolton boss Owen Coyle has admitted he would be happy to speak with the Hampden hierarchy.

Stark said: "I don't know how that process works in terms of applications.

"I've been happy in the U21s job and I'm honoured and absolutely delighted to have the faith of the board that I can prove myself capable of taking the team next week.

"I don't think you rule anything out in football."

He added: "I think it's a job that every individual would covet.

"I've been very proud to be the manager of the U21s and I can only imagine that would be exaggerated when you're in the full job.

"My remit is to take the team through the Luxembourg fixture and that's all I'm concentrating on at the moment."

While there may be a new man in the dugout next week, there are few squad changes after Stark announced his group for the friendly clash yesterday at Hampden.

Former-Rangers star Allan McGregor, defenders Alan Hutton and Gary Caldwell and Celtic skipper Scott Brown are the most high-profile absentees, with Kenny Miller once again included. Barry Bannan, Steven Whittaker, Phil Bardsley and Cammy Bell are all recalled.

"For a November friendly, a lot of football has already been played and some players will have niggles they would love the opportunity to shake off," said Stark.

"Allan McGregor and Gary Caldwell, in particular, have been real stalwarts and terrific players for the national team.

"I've spoken to them and they were grateful to have the chance to have a wee break. There is nothing more to it than that. It's simply the stage they are at.

"Allan rushed back from injury and was an absolute star for us in the recent qualifiers.

"But he's out in Turkey now and, with family circumstances, it was a good opportunity to show a bit of compassion in that sense."

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