Bournemouth’s Ritchie Given First Call-Up

AFC Bournemouth winger Matt Ritchie has received his first call up to the Scotland squad for the games against Northern Ireland and Gibraltar.

Strikers Jordan Rhodes, of Blackburn Rovers, and Ross McCormack, of Fulham, are recalled by Gordon Strachan.

Celtic winger James Forrest is also back after his return to fitness.

But there is no place for midfielders Stuart Armstrong and Gary Mackay-Steven despite their fine form since joining Celtic from Dundee United.

Forrest, Celtic team-mates Craig Gordon and Scott Brown, plus uncapped Aberdeen defender Mark Reynolds, are the only Scottish-based players in Gordon Strachan’s 26-man squad.

Scotland host the Northern Irish in a friendly at Hampden Park on 25 March before Gibraltar visit four days later in a Euro 2016 qualifier.

25-year-old Ritchie was born in Gosport but qualifies for Scotland through his father, Alex.

He has scored 11 times for the Cherries so far this season, including two in a 5-1 win away to Fulham a fortnight ago, and has helped Eddie Howe’s side to the top of the English Championship.

Strachan said: “Between himself and Bournemouth, they’ve dragged themselves right into our vision by the way they have been playing – they have been terrific.

“Matt’s been integral to the success and they are a smashing side with some good players.

“He likes to play the way we like to play, a good passer of the ball, determination and a willingness to learn.”

Ritchie started his career at Portsmouth, had loan spells with Dagenham & Redbridge, Notts County and Swindon Town before signing permanently for the Robins in 2011 and switched to Bournemouth two years later.

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