Somewhere in an alternate universe it’s matchday, and Scotland are still facing the Czech Republic. The only difference is the Covid-19 breakout has occurred within the Scotland camp and the tables are turned as Scotland are instead the nation forced to quarantine their playing squad and staff while the Czech’s remain at full strength. Let’s just say in this alternate universe we won on Friday night as well, just to raise the mood.
So, with Clarke and his team sidelined it’s up to Scot Gemmill who has been promoted from the u21’s to take charge of a Scotland side which can only be comprised of players who were not part of Steve Clarke's original squad.
Formation: 4-5-1 or 4-3-3
Goalkeeper: Scott Bain
Easiest option. Preferably the best option would probably be Allan McGregor, but it would be very debatable if he would play given the cloud he left under. Bain hasn’t been first choice at Celtic but he has had some recent game time and has been capped by Scotland before so it would be good to get in someone who is familiar with the setup.
Right Back: Ross McCrorie
One of many who would likely be promoted from the under 21’s. Since his move to Aberdeen, Ross has been playing regularly and would be a solid enough addition to the squad.
Centre Back’s: Stuart Findlay and Ryan Porteous
Findlay is another who has been capped before and scored on his only appearance. A regular for Killie, Stuart wouldn’t be out of place in Scotland’s defence. Porteous is another of those from the under 21’s and has been called up in the past. Both are not afraid to tackle and given the circumstances wouldn’t be too bad a partnership.
Left Back: Barry Douglas
If it wasn’t for the quality of Andy, Kieran and Greg Taylor, Douglas would be a regular at left back for us. Having won promotion with Wolves when they returned to the Premier League, Barry moved to Leeds and this season helped them to the same prize. He would come into the squad with a wealth of experience and one previous cap for the national team, so he would be an excellent addition to the defence with the rest of them all being under 25yrs old.
The Three in the Middle: James McArthur, Lewis Ferguson and David Turnbull
Experience at this level would be a highly desirable quality for anyone Gemmill was looking at. The Czech’s have had to call upon those who had declared retirement from international football as desperate times call for desperate measures. Recalling retired midfielder James McArthur would be a great move, and one would hope he would step up one last time. He has well over 200 Premier League appearances and 32 caps for Scotland and his presence alongside the two youngsters would be vital to inject some experience between the two under 21 regulars. One would expect McArthur to captain the side as well.
On the flanks: Robert Snodgrass and Ryan Fraser
Snody is another who one would hope would answer to call to return to the fold from retirement. His attitude and charisma would be an excellent lift to the team, and he would be essential to making the best of a bad situation. His experience and goal threat also make him worthy of a call up as one would expect him still to be in and around the squad if he had not retired already.
Fraser is a tricky one as he was not included in the original squad due to his fitness. Given the circumstance though if he could join up, he would bring to the table talent and pace to help add to a good mix between youth and seasoned pros. If he could not manage to start, he would be a good option of the bench and Matt Phillips would be my preference to start instead.
Leading the line: Eamonn Brophy
The Killie striker is another who has been capped by Clarke and featured in the Cyprus game at Hampden last year. There aren’t many other options with the likes of Leigh Griffiths injured, Steven Naismith would possibly be another who could come into the fold. Given his age combined with training postponements and lack of fitness, he probably wouldn’t have the legs to put in a big shift but off the bench he’d be another who would have his uses.