Scotland’s national team was, on average, older than any of the other top 50 sides in the world in 2015, a new study has revealed.Over the last calendar year, Gordon Strachan’s side was around two years older per player than the average of other teams at the top of the FIFA rankings. Scotland played eight matches in 2015, including the conclusion of the EURO 2016 qualifying campaign, where the team failed to reach the finals.The study, carried out by CIES Football Observatory, measured the age of every player who took to the field for a team in the world’s top 50 and also recorded other details on the players’ height, weight, birthplace and club career.CIES found that Scotland topped the age list, with the average player being exactly 29 years old, significantly higher than the 26.6 year-old average across the top 50. The average for UEFA nations was 27.7 years. England’s average was 25.6 years, the fourth lowest recorded, with Wales measuring 26.5 years and Northern Ireland at 28.2 years.The report highlighted England’s relatively young squad as a reason for fans of Roy Hodgson’s side to be optimistic but said that the failure of an experienced Scotland squad suggested it was “timely to carry out an in-depth analysis to understand the reasons for multiple failures over the past decades”.Steven Fletcher played more minutes for Scotland than anyone else in 2015. SNS GroupWhile Scotland fielded an older team than others in 2015, there was no significant difference in the physical attributes with the team’s average height of 180.1cm just 1.8cm less than the mean. The average Scotland player was 74.5kg, just less than the UEFA average of 76.8kg.Strachan fielded 29 different players over eight matches last year, with striker Steven Fletcher topping the appearance list with 603 minutes played in total. Speaking in November 2015, Scotland manager Strachan said that age would not be a factor when he starts choosing players for the World Cup 2018 qualification campaign.“I’ve not got a problem with age,” he said. “Whether it’s 17 or 37, I have no problem. The criteria is that you have to be able to pass the ball, have football intelligence, be willing to come here and give yourself up for the team and work hard.“So if you’ve got all that then you’ll be in with a chance of getting into this squad.”Scotland face England, Slovakia, Slovenia, Lithuania and Malta in the qualification group to reach Russia 2018 with the fixtures beginning in September. Prior to that, Strachan has already lined up friendlies against Czech Republic and Denmark in March and has said that he will pick separate squads for each match to allow potential new players a chance to impress.
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