New Scotland striker Jacob Brown scouting report: Not bad but has anyone got Steven Fletcher's number?
This was where, on a freezing night in Blackpool, Scotland’s newest recruit was helping his Stoke City teammates try and find some form again in the Championship.
Jacob Brown could be just over a week away from becoming the first Jacob to play for Scotland after Steve Clarke made the surprise choice to call him up to his squad for the forthcoming games against Moldova and Denmark.
The manager said he would have no hesitation in pitching the Halifax-born striker straight into the side in the first of these fixtures next Friday night with Scotland a little lighter in the striker department due to the suspension of Lyndon Dykes.
Initial observations? Goodness, that Steven Fletcher is still a good player. The former Hibs striker recommended Brown to Clarke through a third party and is clearly still looking out for Scotland’s interests three years since the last of his 33 international appearances. To date, that is.
Clarke could do worse than have another look at the 34-year-old. Certainly he would be good foil for Brown, because that is what he proved in this match – at least in the opening 70 minutes, before his decade-younger partner was withdrawn after enduring a frustrating time of it.
It proved a good decision by manager Michael O’Neill to leave Fletcher on. He bundled in the winner with 11 minutes left after Harry Souttar’s volley hit the post. It was Fletcher’s third goal in two games as Stoke City returned to the top six and his 101st
league goal in England.
He rolled back the years and provided a lesson in how to play the centre-forward role as he sought to help his side recover from the capitulation that saw Stoke concede three second-half goals in the 3-3 draw with Cardiff City on Saturday.
Fletcher scored two goals on that occasion while Brown struck the opener, his fourth in a season that has awoken Clarke to his promise.
It was possible to see some evidence of what has attracted the Scotland manager to him. Brown worked hard to get on the end of Fletcher’s flick-ons and lay-offs. He has pace. There’s no doubt that Blackpool centre-half Marvin Ekpiteta knew he had been in a game.
In truth, Brown’s touch did fail him somewhat in front of goal, something those Scotland fans who passed on the glamour of the Champions League to run an eye over the striker will have noted.
The 23-year-old is not the finished product yet. He shot straight at the ‘keeper when Fletcher’s headed flick put him through on the hour mark. A poor first touch had earlier let him down after another lay-off from his partner.
He was undoubtedly lively, as Clarke had informed reporters when asked on Tuesday to give a quick breakdown about what to expect from a player many had to confess they had not heard of before. He described Brown as “a pest”.
The hope is he will distinguish himself for something other than being the first Jacob to play for Scotland. He does have some obvious attributes. Now, does anyone have Steven Fletcher’s number?.…
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