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  • Writer's pictureGordon Sheach

Squad – Israel (H) & Czech Republic (A)

We’re back in business baby!

Nine and a half long months have passed since Steve Clarke last announced a Scotland squad. So much has happened since then with attention rightly focused elsewhere.

Scotland’s Heroes of 2020 have been those NHS and key workers, battling on the front-line against the Covid-19 Pandemic.

However, after months of lockdown we’re starting to see signs of life returning to some kind of normality and a Scotland squad announcement is one of those.

Today, (25 August), Steve Clarke revealed the 23 men who will take to the empty stadiums of Glasgow and Olomouc next month to open our Nations League B Group Stage campaign.

Clarke has gone with a tried and trusted squad, fighting the temptation to make wholesale changes. The topsy-turvy football calendar (due to Covid) means that 13 of Clarke’s squad are yet to kick a ball in anger in the 20-21 season.

Here is a breakdown of the squad:

David Marshall and Jon McLaughlin retain their places in the squad, representing new clubs since last time, Derby County and Rangers respectively. McLaughlin has had an impressive start to life with the Ibrox club, not conceding in four league games to date.

The new face is Robby McCrorie, the Rangers youngster who has retuned on loan to Livingston. He impressed last season first on loan with Queen of the South before finishing the season with Livingston. McCrorie carries high expectations at Ibrox and will hope to enjoy a successful season with Livingston paves the way to the number one jersey with Rangers and Scotland.

Clarke has named an un-changed defensive roster from the last matches in November 2019. Since then, Stephen O’Donnell has signed for Motherwell and Liam Cooper has become an English Premier League centre back, enjoying promotion with Leeds United.

The only addition is one that Scotland fans are extremely excited about and it’s Kieran Tierney. He’s enjoyed excellent form since the English Premier League re-start having recovered form the injuries that dogged him last season. Clarke was effusive in his praise of Tierney in the press conference, seemingly relishing the prospect of fitting Tierney and captain Andy Robertson into the same defence.

Again, Clarke has been reluctant to make any changes to the midfield group called up last year. John McGinn and Scott McTominay would have missed out on the Playoffs should they have gone ahead in March, so their return to fitness is incredibly welcome here.

Clarke spoke about leaving out Scotland’s two MLS based players (Johnny Russell and Lewis Morgan) to avoid the requirement for them to quarantine.

Up front, Ryan Fraser and Steven Naismith drop out from the last squad. Clarke spoke in the press conference about the difficulty of calling Naismith with the SPFL Championship season still on break and Ryan Fraser being without a club after not returning for Bournemouth post-restart.

The big addition is QPR’s Lyndon Dykes, who recently moved south to Mark Warburton's Queen's Park Rangers from Livingston having declared his allegiance for Scotland over Australia. We discussed what Dykes could bring to the set-up earlier this summer.

In the press conference, Clarke revealed that he had spoken to Dykes before the games in March. He spoke of Dykes’ abilities to hold-up play which will help to bring Scotland’s attacking midfielders into play.

What do you think of the squad? Who should Steve Clarke have included? Let us know in the comments below or on Twitter @TheTartanScarf.

This game will of course be played behind closed doors. The Scottish FA have been selling cardboard cut-outs to sit in the stands, with the profits being invested in grassroots football.

We’ll certainly be there, and it feels great to be back…

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