WHILE Alex McLeish will doubtless have been disappointed, if not altogether surprised, when Scott Brown informed him he was retiring from international football during the first full week of his second tenure as Scotland manager he will not exactly have been distraught.

The Celtic player will certainly be missed by the national team during their Nations League matches against Albania and Israel in September, October and November and then in their Euro 2020 qualification campaign when it gets underway in March next year.

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But McLeish has several players at his disposal who can take over from Brown both as captain and central midfielder and should be able to cope.

Darren Fletcher, for instance, could do both. The Stoke City man has shown an unflinching desire to play for his country in the past few years since losing his first team place. He has turned up for squads unfailingly and uncomplainingly during that time.

A player of far lesser quality and experience could easily have taken the hump and chosen to concentrate on his club career. Many in his position have certainly done that in the past. But Fletcher , who has overcome far greater challenges than forcing his way back into a side during his life, has persevered.

His tenacity has been rewarded. He won his 80th cap in the tortuous 2-2 draw with Slovenia in Ljubljana back in October that ended Scotland's hopes of clinching a Russia 2018 play-off place. Only Kenny Dalglish (102) and Jim Leighton (91) have made more appearances.

What is more, the former Manchester United man performed, aside from the late chance he failed to bury, well in that outing. He may not have the athleticism that he once possessed, but his technical ability remains and his reading of the game is as good as it ever was.

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The 33-year-old hasn't yet declared whether he will continue to make himself available for Scotland. But given the enthusiasm he showed during Gordon Strachan's reign, considering all the football he has missed as he bravely fought ulcerative colitis and taking into account that he has the outside chance of becoming our most capped player ever, he could well choose to carry on.

He has played regularly and consistently well in the Premier League this term and only Charlie Adam, Ryan Fraser, James McArthur, James Morrison, Matt Phillips, Andy Robertson can currently say that.

McLeish worked with Fletcher in his first spell in charge of Scotland – he was in his starting line-up on that famous night in Paris back in 2007 that France were defeated – and will doubtless be grateful to have somebody of his calibre at his disposal as he bids to win over the sceptics who were aghast at his appointment.

McArthur and Morrison, of course, have played in central midfield for their country in the past and done well there and are options. Stuart Armstrong will, when he returns from his hernia operation, expect to start.

Scott McTominay, too, could feasibly feature. McLeish met with the 21-year-old, who has started the last three games for Manchester United, on Thursday in a bid to persuade the Lancaster-born prospect to pledge his international future to the land of his Glaswegian father’s birth.

Yet, the 59-year-old would make a huge statement, would show he is far more than just a safe pair of hands and would lay solid foundations for the future if he was to make Kieran Tierney his skipper and hand John McGinn an extended run in central midfield.

Tierney captained his country in the friendly international against the Netherlands at Pittodrie back in November and donned the armband for Celtic in a Betfred Cup match against Kilmarnock at Parkhead in August. He is still just 20. But he wouldn't be fazed by the responsibility.

McGinn, who has been exceptional for Hibernian in the top flight this term, is a different kind of player to Brown, but he has the build, hunger and talent to fill his boots for many years to come.

McLeish will show this is a new dawn for a Scotland side which has gone 20 years without qualifying for the finals of a major tournament by making Tierney captain and starting McGinn in the friendly against Costa Rica at Hampden later this month and then thereafter.