Gary Holt insists Craig Halkett and Liam Kelly’s Scotland prospects are not being held back because they play for Livingston.
The on-form Livi pair had been tipped for call-ups to Alex McLeish’s squad ahead of this month’s showdowns with Kazakhstan and San Marino.
However, there was disappointment for centre-back Halkett and Lions number one Kelly as both were overlooked for the Scots’ opening Euro 2020 qualifiers.
But their club boss Holt rejected suggestions the reason for their omission was because they do not play for one of Scotland’s leading sides – telling the pair they need look no further than himself to see that the gulf to the international scene can be bridged even while playing for a provisional outfit.
Holt won 10 caps for Scotland and made his first two appearances against Latvia and Croatia in 2000 while still on the books at Kilmarnock.
“Alex and his team have got a hard job trying to pick a squad,” said Holt. “Yes it’s frustrating that Craig and Liam missed out but it’s good they’re getting talked about as that shows they’re doing well.
“They have got to keep doing it week in, week out. Until they’re in that squad they need to continue doing the good stuff they have been.
“Am I concerned the reason they’re being overlooked is because they play for Livingston? Not at all.
“I got caps playing with Kilmarnock. People used to say back then you’d never get picked playing for a club that size but that was nonsense.
“It’s about what you do on a Saturday. If your consistency levels are exceptionally high, you’ll be involved.”
Halkett’s international chances may get a boost if he completes an expected move to Hearts this summer.
Jambos boss Craig Levein confirmed this week he is “interested” in signing the former Rangers youngster on a pre-contract.
Holt still has not given up hope of persuading his captain to stay but stressed it would be no disaster if Halkett does decide to switch to Tynecastle.
He said: “We’re not giving up hope on anyone we want to keep but it’s out of our hands. I’m getting fed up talking about it.
“Craig has been exceptional for us but this club will go on.
“If Craig moves on then someone else will come in and that’s for the best interests of the club.
“We want to be in the ball park to compete but we understand that players will leave.”
Meanwhile, Holt hopes to take advantage of Aberdeen’s recent struggles at home when Livingston visit Pittodrie on Saturday.
Derek McInnes’ men booked a William Hill Scottish Cup semi-final slot this week as they dumped Rangers out of the competition with victory at Ibrox, but the Dons have won just one of their last eight games in the Granite City.
“Aberdeen sitting third in the table, they’re in the last four of a cup having already been to a final this season,” he said. “I’d happily take that if that’s you telling me they’re having some troubles.
“Their away record is phenomenal but I’m sure Derek will be looking to put their home record right.
“It’s not like they’ve been losing 2-0 and 3-0 at home. They’ve drawn a couple and lost to Hamilton, which was an anomaly.
“But we can look at the results they have had (at home) and it gives us a wee boost that we can go there and, like we did earlier in the season, put on a performance and hopefully come away with a result rather than a 92nd-minute defeat like last time.”