Burley keeps door open for Novo

Burley keeps door open for Novo

Scotland manager George Burley has revealed he is open to using the residency rule that could see Nacho Novo turn out in dark blue.

But he has warned any naturalised citizens must be “desperate” to play for Scotland.

And, crucially, he hinted Novo’s lack of first-team starts for Rangers may count against him should he obtain a British passport.

The Spaniard has claimed he will apply for British citizenship if the Scottish Football Association approach him.

And, although Burley refused to rule out picking Novo, he looks unlikely to pursue the matter.

But he is more amenable to the rule than assistant Terry Butcher, who described the prospect of Novo playing for Scotland as “absurd”, and SFA president George Peat, who claimed it “devalues” international football.

“I think it would be wrong to exclude if you haven’t got a Scottish parent,” Burley told BBC Radio Scotland.

“Every case is different, because naturally you are looking for Scottish players.

“But if you are desperate to play for that country and your kids have been born here and you have been living here for many years, I think from the SFA’s point of view, we have got to be open to it.

“But we have still got to be very careful. If we are going to choose somebody, they have got to have the right credentials.”

The former Hearts manager added: “My criteria are: Are they playing regularly? How are they performing? Are they outstanding? Is he desperate to play for the country?

“There are a lot of things to look at.”

Burley did not rule out calling up Novo, who moved to Scotland in 2001 when he signed for Raith Rovers, if he triggers his right to apply for citizenship.

“At the moment he doesn’t qualify because he doesn’t have a British passport, but I’m aware of Nacho,” he said.

“I saw him in Europe a lot last season, but then again, he is not a regular for Rangers.”

Meanwhile, Burley stressed the need to move on from the controversy surrounding Kris Boyd, who told the manager he was withdrawing from his plans after being left on the bench again as Scotland drew 0-0 with Norway.

“I‘m sure, being Scottish, and the Scottish fans, want people who are desperate to play for their country,” said Burley, whose team take on Argentina in a friendly on November 19.

“We have important games coming up in the World Cup campaign and we are only focused on that.”

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