• Scott Johnston

Why it's great to get Jack back

Unfortunately Scotland won’t be facing Ukraine this month for our World Cup play-off tie, the Ukrainians clearly have more important issues to deal with at this present time. But the Scottish men’s national side still have a few friendlies to contend with during the next international break, starting with Poland on Thursday night at Hampden. Steve Clarke has announced his squad, with the inclusion of Bologna full-back Aaron Hickey understandably getting a lot of the attention. Hickey has enjoyed a pretty fruitful season with The Rossoblù. The nineteen year old left-back has scored four goals in Serie A, has a passing success rate above 84% and he has been his side’s fourth best player in terms of winning tackles. We’re clearly blessed when it comes to left-backs but still have a slight issue when it comes to protecting our backline. Scotland’s got some terrific central midfielders. Billy Gilmour and Callum McGregor can dictate play with their passing abilities and they also give us energy in the middle of the park. While John McGinn is our talismanic figure who can burst into the final third and score vital goals. Manchester United star Scott McTominay always looks more suited as a centre-back when wearing Scotland blue. In the biggest international fixtures, Scotland always need a man that can win the ball back and who can snuff out opposition attacks. We’ve not that in recent clashes. Thankfully Ryan Jack is back! The Rangers midfielder endured a torrid time of it in 2021. Injuries curtailed his title winning campaign at Ibrox and injury also robbed him of the chance of representing The Tartan Army at EURO 2020. Which was such a shame considering he had played such a big part in helping us get there, just think back to his heroic display against Serbia in November 2020. The thirty year old has finally fought back to full fitness and in this calendar year he’s once again becoming influential in the Gers midfield, especially in Europe. He ran his socks off as Rangers dumped Borussia Dortmund out of the Europa League and then followed that up with another Serbian masterclass against FK Czvena Zvezda in last week. Over those two ties he successfully made ten tackles and his average passing success rate over those four games sits above 80%. What Ryan Jack does expertly is the dirty side of things in the engine room. The stuff many don’t take much notice of. The running, getting into the faces of the opposition and being in positions that make things harder for his opponent’s creative players. Former Scotland striker Ally McCoist has stated Ryan should be back in the starting eleven: “If Ryan Jack is fit, he goes straight back into that Scotland team, in my opinion,” “He’s pivotal.” “The difference Jack has made since he came back into the Rangers team is enormous.” “He is key and, without getting carried away, I’m really hopeful now that we’ve got a generation of Scottish talent that can compete at the top level and get us to more European Championships and World Cups.” Here’s hoping Ally is right! In June, when we’ll have to fulfil our play-off dates it could be vitally important that we have that man in midfield that can be our water carrier, a player who will shield his defensive colleagues and one who’ll cover every blade of grass necessary in our bid to finally get back to a World Cup. That’s why it’s fantastic to see Ryan Jack back in our squad, he gives us something different and very much needed in our midfield.