Middlesbrough manager Gordon Strachan has told Kris Boyd to stop trying so hard in training as the striker prepares to face up to being dropped from his country as well as his club.
Boyd is expected to be left out of the Scotland squad for the Euro 2012 qualifiers against the Czech Republic and Spain next month after losing his place in the Boro starting line-up.
The former Rangers striker, who has scored just once since signing for the Teesside club in the summer, was dropped by Strachan after a 3-0 defeat at QPR, which came three days after a quiet display against Liechtenstein on his first Scotland start for three years.
Boyd has come off the bench in two of Middlesbrough’s subsequent three matches and his lack of action has reportedly prompted Levein to tell the striker he will not be in the squad when it is publicly announced on Thursday.
When asked if he would be surprised if Boyd was absent from the pool, Strachan responded: “No, because I know the squad. We always get a squad, it’s given to us.”
The former Celtic boss, who is likely to see defender Stephen McManus and midfielder Barry Robson called up, is not sure whether Boyd’s absence would be a good thing for his club.
“Sometimes you can send players away on international duty and they are a bit down, they go there, score a couple of goals, have a good time and come back,” Strachan said.
“Sometimes you can send them along feeling great about themselves and they have an horrific international thing and have a big axe on their head in the Daily Record or the Scottish Sun in the morning.
“You have not been an international player in Scotland until you have had a big axe on your head.
“If Kenny Dalglish and Graeme Souness can have axes on their heads, then any of us can.”
Boyd, who has scored seven goals in 17 internationals, is unlikely to be feeling great about himself following a difficult start to his career in England but Strachan was full of praise for his attitude.
The 27-year-old has faced accusations throughout his career that he does not work hard enough, but Strachan has no such concerns about his approach to training.
“I can’t ask for any more from his training,” Strachan said.
“He’s a fantastic trainer, he is great with his team-mates and he wants to do well.
“As a matter of fact, I told him last week not to do any more than he has been doing.
“He was actually trying too hard and I said, ’Listen, you don’t need to do that’, because sometimes when players try too hard, they can get frustrated.
“He has worked very hard in training, I have not got a problem with him at all.”
Boyd’s absence, and a cruciate injury for James McFadden, is likely to pave the way for QPR striker Jamie Mackie to win his first Scotland call-up.
Surrey-born Mackie, 24, has netted eight goals in as many npower Championship games since his £150,000 summer move from Plymouth and is keen to play for Scotland, who he qualifies for through a grandparent.
Levein hinted at the weekend that Mackie would be in his pool.
“I am sure he will be an asset to our squad should he be selected, but at this stage I do not want to say too much more other than his goalscoring record speaks for itself,” Levein said.