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A far-too-early attempt at predicting Scotland's Euros squad


hislopsoffsideagain

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It would be absolutely typical if having qualified for Euro 2020, with two games in Glasgow, Scotland weren't allowed to play in front of fans...or worse, that the tournament gets wiped out due to the ongoing pandemic.


Still, here's hoping.


There's still five months to go, but that hasn't stopped me taking a look at the candidates to make the final twenty-three man squad. I've broken it down by position and taken a look at who is already (injury permitting) certain to be in that twenty-three and the other players trying to fight for their place in history.


I actually did something similar last May, mostly as a laugh as I never seriously believed we would pull it off. Players who have disappeared off my radar since then include Charlie Mulgrew (nearly 35 and playing for Fleetwood Town in League One), Stuart Findlay (good but not that good for Kilmarnock since Steve Clarke left), Steven Naismith (34 and on the decline) and Johnny Russell (unable currently to be called up for travel reasons).


So here's where I think things stand right now...


GOALKEEPERS

CERTAINTIES: David Marshall

PROBABLES: Craig Gordon, Jon McLaughlin

MAYBES:

LONG SHOTS: Robby McCrorie, Liam Kelly, Scott Bain, Craig MacGillivray


Marshall is not only Scotland's number one, he'll also never have to buy a drink in this country again after his heroics in Serbia. Whilst the third choice keeper pretty much never plays, it seems unlikely that Clarke will give that slot to a future prospect...even more so given Robby McCrorie can't even get a game at Livingston just now. So Gordon and McLaughlin are very likely to be the other two keepers, with the likes of Bain, Kelly and MacGillivray likely to be the next-man-up if one of the veteran trio gets injured.


FULL-BACKS

CERTAINTIES: Andrew Robertson, Kieran Tierney

PROBABLES: Stephen O'Donnell, Liam Palmer

MAYBES: Greg Taylor

LONG SHOTS: Paul McGinn, Ryan Fredericks, Aaron Hickey


I've listed Tierney here as a full-back even though he is most likely to be used on the left side of a back three. Obviously he would provide backup for Robertson and possibly even on the right side as an emergency. Greg Taylor is a Clarke favourite but he's not getting much gametime at Celtic just now. Hickey, who is playing plenty in Serie A, would probably be just as good an option at left-back if Clarke felt he needed another one in the squad. 


Right-back remains an issue; neither O'Donnell nor Palmer have let Scotland down when called upon but neither can hold a candle to whoever is lining up at left-back. However unless Ryan Fredericks of West Ham changes his mind - apparently he's turned down Clarke before - the duo are our least bad options in the position. McGinn would seem to be the emergency option.


CENTRE-BACKS

CERTAINTIES: Declan Gallagher, Scott McTominay

PROBABLES: Scott McKenna, Liam Cooper

MAYBES: Andrew Considine, Grant Hanley

LONG SHOTS: Paul Hanlon, Ryan Porteous, Steven Caulker


I've put McTominay in this category rather than in midfield as he's likely to stay in the back three for a while yet. Gallagher has excelled in recent international appearances and it's hard to see him getting displaced from the starting XI. If anyone can do so it is probably McKenna, who lost his place in the starting lineup when injured but has done pretty well since moving to England in the Autumn. Cooper and Considine both offer left-footed options; the latter has done better in an international shirt but the former has greater pedigree at club level.


Hanley has come back into the reckoning with some fine performances for Norwich this season. Whilst Porteous is clearly one for the future, it's hard to see the 21 year old or his veteran Hibs teammate Hanlon leapfrogging enough names to make the final squad.


Thrown in here as a wild card option is Caulker, who has turned his career around in Turkey and has made no secret of his wish to represent Scotland.


MIDFIELDERS

CERTAINTIES: John McGinn, Callum MacGregor, Ryan Jack

PROBABLES: Kenny McLean

MAYBES: John Fleck

LONG SHOTS: Billy Gilmour, David Turnbull, Ross McCrorie


The Jack-McGinn-McGregor trio offers excellent balance in midfield and with McTominay needed in defence it's hard to see anyone breaking them up. McLean has done well in the anchor role in the past though and came off the bench against Israel and Serbia.


Fleck seems like a like-for-like backup for MacGregor but he has had a tough season so far at club level and that could leave him on the edge, especially if Turnbull continues his fine recent form. It feels like Gilmour is on the verge of becoming a regular at Chelsea; if he does so in the next few months he'll be impossible to ignore. McCrorie was called up for the last international but he is probably the longest of long shots. 


ATTACKING MIDFIELDERS/WINGERS

CERTAINTIES: Stuart Armstrong, Ryan Christie, Ryan Fraser

PROBABLES: James Forrest

MAYBES:

LONG SHOTS: Mikey Johnston


If Forrest gets back to full fitness he'll surely be in the squad, but he hasn't played since September. A relative dearth of wingers means that Johnston, who is possibly even more injury-prone than Forrest, could be a surprise beneficiary if his Celtic teammate is injured.


Meanwhile there's no way Armstrong, Christie and Fraser won't be named...unless Fraser gets hurt again. The latter two would compete for the second striker role. Armstrong is unfortunate that Clarke's formation doesn't really suit him, but his versatility is enormously helpful and he's just playing too well to leave out.


FORWARDS

CERTAINTIES: Lyndon Dykes

PROBABLES: Oli McBurnie, Leigh Griffiths

MAYBES: Oli Burke, Lawrence Shankland, Callum Paterson

LONG SHOTS: Che Adams, Kevin Nisbet, Steven Fletcher


Dykes just fits the system so well that it's hard to believe anyone can displace him from the lineup. The best bet would be Griffiths, if the Celtic striker can return to the form of three years ago. McBurnie continues to be a divisive figure to say the least but he has all the tools; it's just that he hasn't done it for Scotland (yet, I hope). Given the other options he's still a good bet to be a backup.


Paterson is intriguing because of his ability to play at right-back and in midfield which in an international tournament may prove useful. Shankland has the advantage of having his foot through the door but Nisbet's better goalscoring record this season can't be ignored. Burke offers something of an X-factor but his lack of end product remains infuriating.


Fletcher has never quite closed the door on his international career and while the veteran has been wary of adding to the wear-and-tear on his body, the chance to play in the Euros might be too juicy to ignore. Adams has so far declined Scotland's overtures, but he might be tempted to change his mind for the same reason.



Lawrie Spence has whinged about Scottish football on Narey's Toepoker since September 2007. He has a life outside this blog. Honestly. 

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