Manager explains Ben Doak’s decision to pull out of Scotland U21s squad

Ben Doak‘s withdrawal from Scotland under-21s duty led to rumours of a senior call-up, but the winger is instead focusing on Liverpool’s pre-season.

It was announced on Tuesday evening that Doak had left the Scotland U21s squad along with Hayden Hackney and Max Johnston, with Ben McPherson brought in.

With both the U21s and the senior national team based in Spain, it led to understandable assumptions that Steve Clarke had called the 17-year-old up.

But instead, youth team manager Scot Gemmill has confirmed that Doak requested his omission in order to “really make an impact” in pre-season at Liverpool.

“I’ve spoken to Ben and he is really keen to stress how much he loves being with us and playing with us, but we have to trust him that he knows his body best,” he explained.

“He is a young player who is developing, and he has had a hard season at Liverpool with a lot going on in his life and he has asked to be rested.

“He is really intent to go back to his club in pre-season and really make an impact.

“So of course we are happy to support him.”

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, January 7, 2023: Liverpool's manager Jürgen Klopp (R) shakes hands with Ben Doak (L) after the FA Cup 3rd Round match between Liverpool FC and Wolverhampton Wanderers FC at Anfield. The game ended in a 2-2 draw. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

It may come as a disappointment to Gemmill and the Scottish supporters, but the U21s are only set to play two friendlies against Norway later this month.

For Doak, the opportunity to rest and recover this summer, after a breakthrough campaign at Anfield, will allow him to arrive on day one of pre-season in the best shape possible.

Liverpool’s first team will start to arrive at the AXA Training Centre on July 8, and the young forward is now likely to be among the first back.

Mohamed Salah, Luis Diaz, Diogo Jota and Cody Gakpo are all on international duty this summer, along with Harvey Elliott and Curtis Jones, meaning they are not due back until at least July 11.

While the Reds’ first warmup friendly is not until July 19 – against Karlsruher SC in Germany – those latecomers may not be considered ready to start.

That gives Doak the chance for minutes in those early weeks, to further catch the eye of Jurgen Klopp and his staff.