JORDAN RHODES has the ability to challenge Kenny Miller for the right to spearhead Scotland’s bid to make the 2014 World Cup.
That’s the verdict of the country’s assistant coach Peter Houston ahead of tomorrow’s friendly against Australia in Edinburgh.
The 22-year-old makes a quick return to Easter Road after featuring for Town in their recent friendly against Hibernian.
And last season’s 40-goal ace who has also notched eight in as many outings for Scotland Under 21s is set to make a first start for the seniors after an appearance from the bench in Cyprus last season.
Miller, who has just joined Vancouver White Caps from Cardiff, is unavailable, while QPR striker Jamie Mackie, who might well have started against the Aussies, has pulled out.
Scotland chief Craig Levein has called up Ross McCormack and David Goodwillie from Town’s Championship rivals Leeds and Blackburn, respectively.
But Rhodes appears to be at the forefront of the management team’s thoughts, with Houston saying: “Kenny is still our number one striker.
“But it’s important we try to find someone else, if Kenny isn’t available or injured or isn’t producing the kind of standard we knows he’s capable of.
“Jordan’s taken a step up from League I to the Championship and his goal-scoring record is phenomenal.
“We have to make sure we supply him with chances, because I don’t think I’ve seen as good a finisher, in any division, for a long time.
“He’s done exceptionally well for the Under 21s.
“He’s gone through a qualifying campaign with them and scored many goals, and now might be the time where he gets to start the match and see if he can hack it at full level.
“I’m convinced he can because any international team is always looking for goalscorers and Jordan Rhodes is one of the best.”
Rhodes himself is remaining as grounded as ever, saying: “The manager has so many great players at his disposal, whether it is me or someone else I’m sure we will be giving 100% on the night to try to get a good result for Scotland.
“If selected, I’ll try to give it my best shot and work as hard as I can.”
Town have rejected two offers from Blackburn for a player who has been the subject of speculation all summer.
But Rhodes added: “It’s fantastic being part of the Scotland set-up but once the game finishes, all my attention will be focused on our game at Cardiff on Friday night.”
Rhodes is one of three Town players on full international duty this week.
Midfielder Oliver Norwood is in Belfast for Northern Ireland’s game against Finland and centre-back Joel Lynch with Wales for their clash with Bosnia-Herzegovina at Llanelli.
Former Wales manager John Toshack has had his contract as Macedonia boss terminated after just a year in charge.
The 63-year-old was unwilling to leave his home in Spain to leave full-time in the Eastern European country.
He picked up just one win from eight games, and his departure comes less than a month before the start of a World Cup qualifying campaign which will bring games against Wales and Scotland.