Sean Markus Clifford
Lyndon Dykes – A striking wild card for Scotland?
In recent times, Scotland’s front-line options have been slender to say the least. An ageing Steven Naismith, perennial figure of frustration Oliver Burke and question marks surrounding Leigh Griffiths fitness are just some of the pressing concerns for Steve Clarke ahead of the imperative Nations League campaign.
Couple this, with the enormity of the Dark Blues Euro 2021 play-off semi-final at home to familiar foes Israel and there is an ever-increasing dearth of offensive quality for Scotland going forward. Could this consequentially open the door for Livingston striker Lyndon Dykes to come into the fold? Assuming he pledges his allegiance to the Scots over his native Australia of course. His comments publicly have been suitably cryptic.
Somewhat of a colourful figure, Dykes has enjoyed something of a mercurial rise to prominence around Scotland over the last two years. In his first campaign in the Scottish top-flight, the former Queen of the South forward heavily contributed to the Lions surprise fifth placed finish; imposing himself with his unique style of combativeness and work ethic, which has ruffled the feathers of defenders up and down the country.
So, what exactly could Lyndon Dykes offer the Hampden side going forward?
Of late especially, away from Glasgow, Scotland have lacked an element of physicality in the final third. Oli McBurnie has previously been deployed in this role, however gazing south toward his involvement for Sheffield United, has shown that the Leeds-born striker plays a differing part for his club, rather than one suited to the preferred lone front-man system operated by the Scots in most fixtures.
Lyndon Dykes isn’t a stranger to physical disposition, and doubtlessly this could aid the side from a ball retention standpoint. Evidently, players such as James Forrest, Ryan Christie and Ryan Fraser at times have been stifled, due to a lack of understanding with offensive players when looking to break between the lines to create goal-scoring openings. Dykes is often mistaken for his only forte being his bustling presence, when statistically he has excelled most in his goal-involvement over the last 12 months.
In all competitions, the rangy striker was very influential for his side in 2019/20 with a respectable 12 goals and 10 assists from 33 appearances. His finishing over the previous campaign has gone under the radar, as he was able to produce a variety of divergent goals across the season, as well as the aforementioned propensity to bring others into play, could give Scotland a much needed out ball in sustained spells of pressure, being able to use his mobility to draw fouls and move the play further up the pitch enabling the team to re-group and maintain shape. Whilst also contributing to starting up attacks by moving the ball into midfielders to go forward in numbers.
Attention in relation to acquiring the services of the man in question is not limited to just the international footballing realm. Celtic and Rangers alongside numerous English Championship clubs have been keeping tabs on the Gold-Coast native according to multiple sources with Barnsley the most recent to see an offer rejected.
Exposure to regular football at a reputable club will only proliferate the attacker’s development, this also relates firmly to potential international involvement as many of his possible teammates; notably going forward are established footballers in the English Premier League or challenging for major honours in Scotland. Meaning the former Aussie rules player could hypothetically be playing in a team that unlock more space and goal-scoring chances, which would only further serve to benefit both parties.
Something of a big game player, his finest hour came as Livi took the scalp of reigning title holders Celtic at Almondvale in a memorable 2-0 victory. Dykes lead the line in exemplary fashion that day, giving arguably the best central defender in the country; Christopher Jullien a torrid afternoon, capping his performance off with a fine strike past imposing goalkeeper Fraser Forster.
On the other side of Glasgow, he again demonstrated his characteristics and was praised by fans and punters alike, gaining an assist in a 3-1 defeat for his employers against a strong Rangers side. He already has experience of holding his own at a decent level, and if he could consistently rile up his counterparts then it’s conceivable Dykes could play a role at Hampden, as he could bring an unorthodox component to the current set-up.
Australia boss Graham Arnold has also held discussions surrounding the future of his fellow countryman, and with games coming thick and fast for the Scottish national team; Steve Clarke will be hoping for conformation sooner rather than later. Only time will tell as to whether Lyndon Dykes will don the dark blue jersey.