LEE CLARK is backing striker Jordan Rhodes to follow Craig Mackail-Smith by firing his way into the full Scotland team – and the Championship.
Town’s in-form striker is back with his teammates ahead of this afternoon’s game at Exeter after notching five goals in two games for Scotland Under 21s.
Mackail-Smith earned his first Scotland chance after catching the eye in League I as Peterborough pipped Town to promotion last season.
The frontman left for Brighton after scoring for Posh in their play-off final win over Town at Old Trafford.
But Clark says there is no need for the Galpharm club to part with any of their young guns.
“There will always be speculation – that’s football – but we don’t have to sell our up-and-coming players and we aren’t going to,” he said.
“It’s correct to say Jordan is on the verge of getting a full Scotland cap and why shouldn’t he?
“He has done well for the Under 21s and they are not a national team who are blessed with lots of goalscorers.
“When you have a player who has got that natural instinct then he should come into the reckoning.
“I wouldn’t be surprised when Craig Levein fixes up his next friendly in preparation for the World Cup qualifying campaign that Jordan gets thrown into the mix.
“Dip him in and out because, when it comes to the qualifying campaign, he might be one of those strikers who does the business.
“Craig Mackail-Smith has taken to it very well, so there’s no reason why Jordan can’t do the same thing.”
Clark also has midfielder Oscar Gobern (dead leg) and centre-back Jamie McCombe (suspension) back for today’s St James’ Park meeting.
While his side are third and aiming to make it 38 League I games unbeaten, the boss has warned his side to ignore Exeter’s basement billing.
“They have been missing key players through injury and you could say they are in a false position,” said Clark.
“It’s a tight pitch, and they are capable of playing some good football, so while we are confident, we certainly won’t be complacent.”