THE stage is set for next summer's World Cup in Russia.

Scotland will once again not be there after failing in their qualifying bid, while the likes of the Netherlands, Italy and Chile will be conspicuous by their absence.

Despite the failure of Gordon Strachan's side, several Scotland-based players are still set to be heading to Russia 2018, while others are in need of an eye-catching remainder of the 2017/18 campaign to earn selection.

Read more: Eight Premiership clubs awarded 'elite' status in Scottish FA's Project Brave structure


Dedryck Boyata (Celtic)

The Celtic centre-back has earned just four caps for his country since making his debut in 2010, but will be hopeful of earning a seat on the plane to Russia after being called up for the last two international breaks.

Boyata played a full 90 minutes as his country drew 3-3 with Mexico last Friday and he will be in contention for a squad place next summer - although he is far from a certainty having failed to play a single minute during qualifying.


Bruno Alves (Rangers)

The Gers’ veteran defender has insisted he will never retire from international duty, but next summer’s World Cup in Russia could well be his final fling with Portugal.

With 94 caps to his name he stands at number six in his country’s all-time appearance table and his vast experience should be enough to take Alves to a third World Cup.Evening Times:


Mikael Lustig (Celtic)

Lustig’s wild celebrations in the wake of Sweden’s play-off win over Italy demonstrated how much playing for his country means to the Celt and he is a certainty to travel with Janne Anderesson’s squad next summer as long as he remains fit.

The 30-year-old has played in eight of Sweden’s last 10 games, missing the first leg of the play-off with Italy due to suspension. He also went on a run of devastating form at the start of the season, bagging two goals and two assists in three games against Bulgaria, Belarus and Luxembourg.


Kari Arnason (Aberdeen)

After returning to Pittodrie in the summer, Arnason has continued to make history for his country by helping Iceland become the smallest country to ever qualify for the World Cup.

The 35-year-old played a vital role in qualifying, missing just one game as the tiny island nation topped their group ahead of Croatia, Turkey, Ukraine, Finland and Kosovo.Evening Times:

Costa Rica

Cristian Gamboa (Celtic)

The right-back may be finding playing opportunities limited under Brendan Rodgers, but he remains a key man for his country after missing just three games of their qualifying campaign.

With 57 caps to his name, Gamboa is a Costa Rican stalwart, but he has found chances at Celtic limited this season with only one league appearance so far.


Tom Rogic (Celtic)

Rogic helped Australia finally book a place in Russia on Wednesday with a 3-1 play-off win over Honduras, having missed out on automatic qualification before squeezing past Syria in a confederation play-off.

The midfielder has featured in his country’s last five matches and will almost certainly feature in the Socceroos squad next summer, having scored five goals during qualifying to take his total tally to seven strikes in 31 caps.

Who has an outside chance?


Erik Sviatchenko (Celtic)

The centre-back has spent most of the season in the treatment room but is edging towards a return after missing the climax of Denmark’s qualification campaign, a 5-1 hammering of the Republic of Ireland in last night’s Dublin play-off.

His injury could be costly as the 26-year-old has played just 10 minutes of competitive action for his country and will now find chances to make an impact hard to come by. But a strong season with the Hoops, fitness-depending, could see Sviatchenko force his way back into Age Hareide’s plans in time for next summer.


Moussa Dembele (Celtic)

The striker has quite an array of stars for competition, but you can’t rule him out quite yet. The Celtic youngster scored a 12-minute hat-trick for his country’s Under-21 side against Slovenia on Monday and more performances like that, combined with good form in Scotland and in Europe, could give him an outside chance.

Dembele was called up to a provisional senior squad ahead of France's friendlies against Wales and Germany this month before missing out on a place in the final pool. The 21-year-old is still waiting for his first cap, but can he muscle his way into a squad featuring the likes of Antoine Griezmann, Kylian Mbappe, Olivier Giroud and Alexandre Lacazette?Evening Times:


Carlos Pena, Eduardo Herrera (Rangers)

The Mexican pair have failed to impress at Ibrox since their summer arrival, but both have international pedigree. Herrera last featured for Mexico in a 2-0 win over Senegal in February 2016, while Pena's last appearance came in the humiliating 7-0 Copa America Centenario defeat to Chile last summer.

National team boss Juan Carlos Osorio warned the duo earlier this month that they will need to make an impression with the Gers if they are to be considered for a re-call in time for Russia  2018.

He said: “I follow all Mexicans abroad who can be a part of the national team and that includes Pena and Herrera at Rangers.

“I believe as long as they can be influential at their club, they have a high chance of being in the squad.”


Ryan Edwards (Partick Thistle)

A regular for the Socceroos’ Under-23 side, Edwards earned his maiden call-up to the senior side last season as he helped the Jags to their best-ever league finish.

However, he failed to earn his first cap and must now produce some sparkling form in the remainder of 2017/18 is he is to force his way into Ange Postecoglou’s plans.