Aaron Hickey Scotland fitness update as Steve Clarke addresses selection concerns

Aaron Hickey has handed Scotland a much-needed fitness boost ahead of Tuesday’s Nations League decider against Ukraine.

There was concern that the Brentford full-back could add to Scotland’s selection concerns for the crunch match in Krakow after he was replaced during the 2-1 win over Republic of Ireland on Saturday due to feeling tightness.

However, head coach Steve Clarke has confirmed the 20-year-old took part in a full training session on Monday before the squad flew to Poland and he is in contention to start at right-back along with Celtic’s Anthony Ralston.

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“Aaron felt a bit tight in the game and I knew I had Tony Ralston on the bench who could do a good job for us," Clarke said.

“Aaron trained this morning, he seems to be OK so I have a good choice to make between Tony and Aaron.”

Skipper Andrew Robertson was already injured before September’s triple-header and fellow defenders Nathan Patterson, Kieran Tierney and Scott McKenna are also out for the final fixture, with midfielder Scott McTominay suspended.

A virus in the camp has also affected strikers Lyndon Dykes and Che Adams although the latter took part in a media conference and said he felt “great” ahead of a game where, after home wins against Ukraine and Republic of Ireland, B1 leaders Scotland need only a point to win the group and clinch promotion to League A.

Clarke, who called up Hearts duo Barrie McKay and Stephen Kingsley on Sunday, was disappointed to lose Tierney and McKenna but insists the squad can be “adaptable.”

Aaron Hickey trains with Scotland ahead of the trip to Poland to face Ukraine. (Photo by Alan Harvey / SNS Group)Aaron Hickey trains with Scotland ahead of the trip to Poland to face Ukraine. (Photo by Alan Harvey / SNS Group)
Aaron Hickey trains with Scotland ahead of the trip to Poland to face Ukraine. (Photo by Alan Harvey / SNS Group)

“You don’t want to lose anyone from the squad,” said Clarke, who stated he could “trust” McKay and Kingsley.

“Kieran and Scott are two good players playing to the best of their abilities. Injuries are sent to test you, it is now a chance for someone else.

“As I say, we have a sickness bug in the camp, maybe I will wake up tomorrow morning and have a different set of problems, I don’t know.

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“But just deal with it. You are always being asked questions, you are always being tested but I am sure we will do enough to pass the test.”

Clarke managed Greg Taylor at Kilmarnock and was pleased with the way he took over from Tierney in the first half in the 2-1 win over the Irish but insists the Celtic left-back himself has competition for his place.

He said: “Greg’s determination to do well was apparent to me as soon as I walked in the door at Kilmarnock. I know he wants to get better.

“He has moved to a bigger club, he has handled the expectation and pressure of playing at that bigger club, any time I have asked him to perform for the national team he has done very well.

“So no worries about Greg and you want that all over the pitch. Young Josh Doig has come in and trained very well, looks good, Stephen Kingsley has covered that position as well, Kenny McLean has played there three or four times for Norwich this season, so we are well covered.

“It is a case of dealing with what the fates have thrown at us and being determined to finish the job.”

Clarke stressed that whoever gets the nod on Tuesday night, Scotland will not be going out for the draw.

He said: “I don’t think anybody goes and sets out for a draw, you are always set up to win the game.

“We are certainly not going to go there for a draw because if you don’t meet expectations you lose the game.”



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