John McGinn in action for Scotland against Denmark in March

Hibernian midfielder John McGinn has been included in Gordon Strachan’s 27-man Scotland squad for the World Cup qualifier against Malta on 4 September.

McGinn is joined by five others who have stepped up from the Under-21s.

Hearts duo Jack Hamilton and Callum Paterson, Celtic left-back Kieran Tierney, Nottingham Forest midfielder Oliver Burke and Rangers forward Barrie McKay also feature in the squad.

But there are no places for strikers Ross McCormack and Jordan Rhodes.

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Hull City winger Shaun Maloney, Rangers left-back Lee Wallace and Aberdeen midfielder Kenny McLean are also omitted for the opening match in Group F.

Hull’s win on Saturday at Swansea was Maloney’s first game of the season and that factor counted against the former Celtic midfielder.

Shaun Maloney celebrates scoring for Hull against Swansea
Shaun Maloney made a goal-scoring return for Hull against Swansea on Saturday

“Shaun has not had many games over the last period,” Strachan said. “I also said to him that there are players in your area at the moment playing regularly and playing very well. So he understands that.

“But don’t take that as finished, that’s for sure. He has a great fitness level, but I think some people need games.”

James Forrest, who is recalled along with Celtic team-mates Craig Gordon, Tierney and Leigh Griffiths after being rested for the end-of-season friendlies against Italy and France, replaces Maloney as an option out wide.

Hearts keeper Hamilton – preferred to Dundee’s Scott Bain – and Fulham midfielder Kevin McDonald are the only uncapped players in the squad, with Tierney, McGinn and McKay all hoping to add to their recent debut caps.

West Brom midfielder James Morrison also returns to the squad, with winger and Baggies team-mate Matt Phillips dropping out.

McGinn is the only one of eight Scotland-based players playing outside the Premiership. Only six players in the squad are with English Premier League clubs, with 13 playing in the English Championship.

‘We’re weaker without Scott Brown’ – Strachan

With regular captain Scott Brown announcing his international retirement last week, manager Gordon Strachan says he has not yet spoken to any squad members about taking on the role.

West Brom midfielder Darren Fletcher took the armband for the matches against Italy and France and led the side on numerous occasions a decade ago, but Strachan would only confirm that he “will speak to Darren about it”.

Darren Fletcher in action for Scotland against France
Darren Fletcher was the last player to lead Scotland, but Strachan is yet to make a decision on a new captain

Hull midfielder Robert Snodgrass told BBC Scotland on Sunday that he would happily “throw my name in the hat” as a candidate to succeed Brown.

Strachan said the squad would be “quieter” without the absent Celtic midfielder.

“I loved his company,” the manager said. “We just get on with it. We thank him, we respect his decision. It’s the best for Scott Brown.

“I was at Celtic Park last week to speak to him and people were saying how terrifically he’s doing and how I’ll enjoy that.

“We were giggling, because two weeks before he’d told me his decision. Midfield is one of our stronger areas, but we’re weaker without him.”

Analysis – BBC Scotland reporter Richard Wilson:

“The Scotland squad is evolving under Gordon Strachan. Familiar faces remain as the foundation, but places for Hearts goalkeeper Jack Hamilton, Fulham midfielder Kevin McDonald, Hibernian’s John McGinn and Rangers’ Barrie McKay tell of new figures coming into prominence.

“Absences still draw attention, in particular no places for Ross McCormack, the striker who moved for £12m from Fulham to Aston Villa during the summer, or Shaun Maloney, who scored last weekend for Hull City on his return to the English Premier League.”

Scotland squad to face Malta

Goalkeepers: Craig Gordon (Celtic), Jack Hamilton (Hearts), David Marshall (Cardiff City).

Defenders: Christophe Berra (Ipswich Town), Gordon Greer (Blackburn Rovers), Grant Hanley (Newcastle United), Alan Hutton (Aston Villa), Russell Martin (Norwich City), Callum Paterson (Hearts), Andrew Robertson (Hull City), Kieran Tierney (Celtic).

Midfielders: Ikechi Anya (Watford), Barry Bannan (Sheffield Wednesday), Oliver Burke (Nottingham Forest), Darren Fletcher (West Bromwich Albion), James Forrest (Celtic), James McArthur (Crystal Palace), Kevin McDonald (Fulham), John McGinn (Hibernian), Barrie McKay (Rangers), James Morrison (West Bromwich Albion), Matt Ritchie (Newcastle United), Robert Snodgrass (Hull City).

[Source:- BBC]