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Men's Football Gemmill: I gave Kerr a chance before St Johnstone

SCOTLAND Under-21 boss Scot Gemmill hit back at Tommy Wright today, insisting he gave Jason Kerr a chance before the St Johnstone manager did.

Wright was quoted last week criticising the Hampden youth coach over his snub of Saints centre-back Kerr for the forthcoming Euro Under-21 qualifiers against Andorra and Holland.

The McDiarmid Park manager said Gemmill’s claim that Kerr had been left out because he was looking to go with younger options did “not stack up,” as he had named Hearts’ John Souttar in his squad even though he was older than 21-year-old Kerr.

Souttar has now been promoted to Alex McLeish’s full squad, but his place in Gemmill’s group has gone to David Bates of Hamburg, who also happens to be older than Perth ace Kerr.

But Gemmill defended his selection policy and, having given Kerr the chance to shine at the Toulon tournament this summer, insists former Rangers stopper Bates now deserves a turn.

He said: “I did call Jason when the squad was announced and explained that, because we’re getting close to when the age group changes, we were starting to work towards including younger players.

“I also explained we did want to have one older defender, who was due to be John Souttar. John was obviously then promoted to the full squad so the decision to bring David Bates in was made because we feel we have a responsibility to give the best young players in the country an opportunity.

“We were delighted that we gave that opportunity to Jason. He went to Toulon and has played for the 21s, so we feel we have helped Jason to develop as a young player.

“We were selecting Jason before his club were when he was still on loan at Queen of the South, so we feel we have helped Jason in that regard and that is our job.

“Right now we feel we are in a position to give David that opportunity. He hasn’t had that opportunity yet and is one of the best young players in the country. We have to make decisions, we can’t include them all, but we’re trying our best to help as many as we can.

“Jason, of course, still has a part to play in the future, but you have to cross every bridge when you come to it. Who knows who will be available the next time the squad is available?”

Gemmill stressed there was no fallout with Wright, saying: “I haven’t spoken to Tommy Wright about it, but he’s just doing his job and I’ve got no problem with that.”

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