Newcastle winger Harvey Barnes has been advised by Ally McCoist that he’d be welcomed with open arms if he decides to make the controversial decision to abandon his England career to play for Scotland instead.
The Magpies winger moved to St James’ Park over the summer after completing a £38m move from relegated Leicester City. He was a star performer for the Foxes, especially during their final season in the top flight, finishing his time at the King Power with an excellent record of 45 goals and 28 assists from 187 appearances.
That record of a goal contribution every 2.5 games earned the 25-year-old a call-up to the England squad in October 2020, where he made his debut as a substitute in a 3-0 win over Wales.
However, with a plethora of strong options all available on the wing for Gareth Southgate, Barnes has not appeared for his country since.
And as the cap was not earned in a competitive game, Barnes is eligible to consider a change of international allegiances. Luckily for him, with his maternal grandparents having been born in Scotland, the player is allowed to change countries if he so wishes.
Now, after being left out of Southgate’s latest England squad, which ironically includes a friendly game against Scotland at Hampden Park on Tuesday evening, a frustrated Barnes is now reportedly strongly considering making his intentions known to Tartan Army coach, Steve Clarke.
Barnes, who scored on his Newcastle debut in a 5-1 win over Aston Villa on the opening day of the season, feels ready to add regular international football to his CV.
For obvious reasons, he is far more likely to enjoy that with Scotland.
McCoist offers advice to Harvey Barnes over Scotland switch
And now former Scotland striker McCoist, who himself netted 19 goals in 61 games for his country, feels Barnes would be a hugely-welcome addition to Clarke’s set-up.
“I may be biased, but he has got to switch,” McCoist told talkSPORT. “He has got to – he is going to get a game. I look at Harvey Barnes and I can see him playing for Scotland.
“He is the type of player that the Scottish fans love and the Scottish team need, and with the greatest respect I look at the England team and he is no going to play – they have got Saka, Foden and Grealish.
“It is going to be extremely difficult for him to play. I am being a bit light-hearted about it and I don’t think it’s a no-brainer, but it looks like Scotland now have a squad capable of qualifying for championships.”
As McCoist states, it does seem unlikely Barnes will get a sniff for England. As well as the trio the pundit mentions, England also have an in-form Raheem Sterling who can’t earn a recall of late. And with Marcus Rashford and James Maddison – albeit the latter as more of a No 10 – also options, the player appears a long way down the pecking order.
Tuesday friendly match at Hampden Park marks the 150th anniversary since the first meeting between the famous old enemies.
And with Scotland boasting a 100% record in European Championship qualifying, Barnes will see a good opportunity to get a taste of tournament football in summer 2024 if he follows through and becomes an adopted Scot.