Che Adams cameo hints at Scotland potential but draw against Austria does not bode well

If Che Adams does prove to be the man who can end Scotland’s long search for a regular and reliable goalscorer, his arrival on the scene may already be too late to inspire qualification for the 2022 World Cup.

Che Adams replaces his Southampton team-mate Stuart Armstrong to make his Scotland debut against Austria at Hampden. (Photo by Craig Williamson / SNS Group)
Che Adams replaces his Southampton team-mate Stuart Armstrong to make his Scotland debut against Austria at Hampden. (Photo by Craig Williamson / SNS Group)

Adams will require more than the promising half hour cameo he provided at Hampden on Thursday night to establish himself as Steve Clarke’s number one striker.

Regardless of how much game time Adams is given as the remainder of Group F unfolds, however, history suggests Scotland are already playing a game of catch-up beyond their capabilities.

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The 2-2 draw against Austria was a decent result in the circumstances, given Steve Clarke’s side trailed twice. But it is the sixth consecutive World Cup qualifying campaign in which Scotland have failed to win their opening home fixture - a setback they were unable to recover from every time.

Lyndon Dykes battles for possession with Austria defender Aleksandar Dragovic on a frustrating night at Hampden for the Scotland striker. (Photo by Alan Harvey / SNS Group)

Having seen his team draw a blank in three of their previous six matches, Clarke could take some comfort from the goals delivered on this occasion by defender Grant Hanley and midfielder John McGinn.

But how Scotland could do with a striker like Sasa Kalajdzic, top scorer in the German Bundesliga with VfB Stuttgart this season, who grabbed a double for Austria.

Adams did enough in his time on the pitch to suggest he merits a starting place for Sunday’s assignment against Israel in Tel Aviv. The Southampton striker impressed with his movement and link-up play and hinted at much more to come.

Adams’ previous experience of international football was back in September 2015 when he played in a 1-0 defeat for England’s under-20 side against Czech Republic at Shrewsbury. His team-mates that night included current Rangers’ duo Ryan Kent and Brandon Barker, along with Spurs’ Harry Winks.

After all the hype around his call-up, it was something of a surprise he started the night on the bench at Hampden as Lyndon Dykes was chosen to lead the line on his own.

Clarke’s show of faith in Dykes was certainly driven by the former Livingston man’s previous contributions since his introduction to the Scotland set-up, rather than on his club form.

The 25-year-old has hardly been prolific since his £2 million move to QPR last August - his goal in their 1-1 draw at Reading last Saturday was his first in 22 appearances.

With Adams having scored in each of his last three outings for Southampton in the Premier League, it must have been tempting for Clarke to throw him straight into his starting line-up.

Instead, he opted for Dykes as the spearhead of a formation which looked to provide the big striker with support from midfield in the shape of Ryan Christie, McGinn and Stuart Armstrong.

But Dykes was left isolated for lengthy spells and rarely given the opportunity to unsettle the Austrian defence with his physicality.

He did seize upon a terrible error by goalkeeper Alexander Schlager which presented Scotland with their most threatening moment of a stale first half. Dykes was slightly unfortunate not to be able to work a shooting position for himself but showed good presence of mind to set it up for Christie whose effort was saved.

A goal also eluded Adams after his 66th minute entry to the fray, as did that elusive initial home win for Scotland.

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