DARREN FLETCHER has come out praising Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers after the Scotland team fell short of a playoff place for next summers World Cup.

Scotland were down and out last year in their group when Gordon Strachan refused to play in-form players and more of the Celtic contingent who were blazing an invincible trail in domestic competitions. With not much else to lose, Gordon Strachan reluctantly put more Celtic players into his first team and reaped the rewards.

Unfortunately, Stuart Armstrong and Scott Brown were both out for the last two games and again the Scottish managers reluctance to put an in-form Callum McGregor into his team and decided to trust players that had failed him before instead. This came back to bite the manager and team when they were unable to get the win that would take Scotland to the playoffs.

However, Darren Fletcher believes thanks to Brendan Rodgers – Scotland now have a strong spine going forward and will only get better if the Celtic bhoys are played.

He told the Evening Times: “To me Brendan has been amazing for Scottish football because he has been a massive help to the national team.

“The last Scotland squad we had six players in here for Celtic who are all used to playing with one another, who are all used to pressure games and having to win but more than just that – every one of them has improved since he arrived at Celtic.

“As a manager of an international team, you only have brief periods of time to work with players and get on the training ground.

“Having players that know one another and who have clearly been coached in such a way that they have kicked on, only helps us as a nation.

“It has been a big part of Scotland’s development, I think.

“Stuart Armstrong has come on leaps and bounds, Scott Brown has always been a fantastic player but he is another whom I think took his game up another level under Brendan, and Craig, Callum McGregor, Kieran Tierney and especially Leigh have all shown a massive difference in their game.