ALEX McLeish, the Scotland manager, has denied that Allan McGregor, the Rangers goalkeeper, had retired from international football after taking umbrage at the two match ban he received from the SFA last month.

McGregor informed McLeish he no longer wished to be considered for selection last week and was not included in the 27-man national squad for the opening Euro 2020 qualification double header against Kazakhstan and San Marino that was announced yesterday.

The Scotland manager revealed the 37-year-old, who won a total of 42 caps between 2007 and 2018, had told him last year that he was keen to continue playing for his club and country until he was 40.

McGregor was punished retrospectively for a challenge on Lewis Ferguson of Aberdeen in a Ladbrokes Premiership game at Pittodrie – a decision that prompted his Ibrox club to call for a review of a “flawed” disciplinary system.

However, McLeish stressed that the player had decided not to carry on with Scotland due to his concerns over back and knee problems and his desire to prolong his club career with Rangers.

“I’m gutted,” he said. “Not just for me but for him as well. However, he feels he has to hang up the boots at international level. He’s 37 years of age now and has aches and pains. I know how I felt at that age. I retired two years earlier from full-time football. He has been a great servant for Scotland.

“I always feared (this would happen). When he first came back in I knew about his aches and pains, his back and knee problems, and always thought if he was running on empty at times. We were quite happy every time he was called up that he was fit and came along.

“He never let us down and was always a strong team player and had a voice. His experience over the years was invaluable and it’s now time to unleash someone else. He wants to prolong his club career. We were hoping he would do a (Gianluigi) Buffon and stay on until 40 but he has chosen to go and now it’s the chance for someone else.”

Asked about the suggestions that McGregor had made the decision after receiving the SFA ban, McLeish said: “I spoke to him about that and he says it is utter nonsense.

“I have been up before the beaks before, back in the old Park Gardens days, and it never got me to thinking ‘I’m going to phone Jock Stein and tell him this is out of order’. That would be petty, I think.

“It’s not so much ’I don’t want to play for Scotland.’ That makes is sound aggressive. He says he just can’t combine the two any more. Rangers are paying his salary and if he feels a threat that salary may go if he can’t cope with the two games. If he has to make that decision and you have to respect it.

“At the end of my career I was waking up with a hip pain and I had to try and make it go away before I could train. Everyone says when you are young you don’t know your body and you play through injury. There weren’t the performance guys at that time saying that you were in danger playing a game.

“Football is not a perfect science, but when it comes to stage of your career when you are slowing up you use experience and by God you know when you’re ready.”

McGregor pulled off a stunning save late on in the Nations League match against Israel at Hampden back in November to ensure Scotland won 3-2 and secured a Euro 2020 play-off spot.

McLeish, who is hoping his team can qualify automatically for the finals by finishing in the top two in their section, believes the Rangers man bowed out of international football on a high and deserves to be remembered for his outstanding service to his country.

“That save will be remembered for a long time,” he said. “It wasn’t a spectacular dive or athleticism, but pure nous and that’s what the goalies have at that age, that experience of positioning and we want the young guys who are behind him and coming into this squad to take that inspiration.