YOUNG Falkirk star Craig Sibbald may have to miss another overseas Scotland trip, despite being called up to the national under-17s squad.
Along with close friend Kyle Turnbull, the 16-year-old was selected in Ross Mathie’s squad for the Youth Toto cup matches in Austria before the retiring coach left the role yesterday.
But a recurring heel injury - and Sibbald’s sparkling form in the first team - may mean he will miss a third trip away with Scotland.
Last year an airline workers’ strike grounded a trip to Belgium, then injury forced him out of another Scotland trip to Jersey this year.
Now, even if his foot wound heals sufficiently, Steven Pressley may request to keep Sibbald in Falkirk for first team duties with Farid El Allagui suspended for the Ramsden’s Cup next weekend.
Pressley told Heraldsport: “There’s sometimes a tendency for players from SPL sides to be called up - so it is a good achievement and good recognition for the club and Academy to have Kyle and Craig selected again.
“The first team pool is small so we might request to keep Craig for Falkirk this time, he has done very well when he has been called upon in the first team, and it’s little wonder Scotland also want to include him in the national squad - but we will wait and see.”
The Youth Toto cup has Scotland playing a minimum of three games - against Croatia, Slovenia and the hosts between August 28 and September 4. In that time Falkirk have matches with Alloa in the Stirlingshire Cup and at East Fife next Sunday.
But whichever dark blue jersey Sibbald is wearing next week - he’ll be happy just to play.
“The trip is over five days in Austria so if I go I am hoping for a good run - I’ve been injured a lot of the times I’ve been called up, and now I’ve got this cut in my foot,” the quiet midfielder told Heraldsport.
“If I have to stay I have to stay - but even then I’ll be quite happy because I’ll be getting a shot with the first team - so it is a win-win situation I suppose.
“I feel I am doing alright but there are a few injuries in the team, so maybe that’s another reason I’m getting so much game-time.
“The first team has been a big step up and a good experience but I enjoy the challenge with experienced players and the guys around help me in games and at training every day, hopefully it will benefit me whenever I play under-17s.”
Sibbald, and many of Falkirk’s staff, were disappointed the youngster was only involved in a small portion of the Victory Shield decider with England earlier this year. Now he’s looking for a bigger slice of the action - and a starting slot - having already achieved his season’s aim with Falkirk.
“I signed a three-year deal in the summer and my goal this season was to get a couple of games in the first team, and gradually get more and more as my contract wore on.
“I’ve already achieved that and now I’m looking to stay in the first team squad and get more Scotland calls when I can.
“In the Victory Shield I only got on for eight minutes. I would have liked to have played more, especially against a big rival like England, but that’s the same for everyone - you want to play as much as you can. I just want to start for Scotland because I’ve never actually been in a starting eleven.
“It is good to have Kyle there too because he’s a good friend of mine, and having someone you know keeps you relaxed. It’s sad Blair Munn isn’t coming because he was picked for Belgium when the trip was cancelled and he’s been with the club for a lot of pre-season.”
Sibbald could have scored on Saturday but he’s still waiting for his first Bairns goal despite laying on several of the Falkirk goals already this season. So far he’s presented El Allagui and Blair Alston with open goals to get their season’s tally off the mark, but Sibbald will wait.
“I had a really good chance when I was one on one with the goalkeeper but a defender nipped it before I could shoot - I hope I can get a goal soon, but I’ll keep setting them up too.”
Sibbald is a doubt for Saturday’s game with his injury, as is Stephen Kingsley, Blair Alston and David Weatherston.
n ALL turnstiles in the South Stand will be open to pay at the gate customers for Saturday’s match with Ross County. The arrangement will remain for the season after consultation in a fans’ survey.