Scotland squad: Steve Clarke discusses Aaron Hickey, Nathan Patterson and Ryan Fraser

Ryan Fraser is not in the Scotland squad.Ryan Fraser is not in the Scotland squad.
Ryan Fraser is not in the Scotland squad.
Steve Clarke has confirmed that Aaron Hickey’s previous reluctance to play for the Under 21s will not count against him after he was named in the full Scotland squad.

The Bologna full-back is making what some consider to be a belated appearance at full international level.

Although still only 19, he has been playing regularly in Serie A since last year but pulled out of an Under-21 squad in November due to tiredness. It was reported as recently as last week that he had asked not to be considered for their games against Turkey and Kazakhstan later this month. “He has his own thoughts and we have to accept that,” said manager Scot Gemmill.

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Hickey has enjoyed a remarkable rise to prominence in European football after breaking through at Hearts. He is also versatile and can play at left or right-back as well as left or right wing-back, which is how Clarke tends to set out his team. Hickey has not been capped since Under-17 level.

Nathan Patterson's game-time with Everton has been limited.Nathan Patterson's game-time with Everton has been limited.
Nathan Patterson's game-time with Everton has been limited.

“He’s adaptable,” said Clarke. “I’ve seen him playing a couple of games off the right for Bologna and he did okay. He can play off the left. In our group he’s obviously got competition with the captain Andy Robertson and Kieran Tierney in front of him.

“It gives me a chance to see Aaron up close in a training camp.”

Scotland are currently short on options on the right in marked contrast to the left, where Robertson and Tierney operate.

One option is Nathan Patterson although he has found it hard breaking into the Everton team since joining the Goodison Park club from Rangers during the last transfer window. He has only started once – against non-league Boreham Wood in the FA Cup – and was replaced at half-time.

Aaron Hickey has been included in the Scotland squad after good form for Bologna.Aaron Hickey has been included in the Scotland squad after good form for Bologna.
Aaron Hickey has been included in the Scotland squad after good form for Bologna.

Clarke has included the 19-year-old for the friendlies against Poland and the losers of the Wales-Austria World Cup semi-final play-off but acknowledged his difficulties to date in England. “It would have been difficult to think about playing Nathan in a really competitive match like a play-off semi-final,” he said.

“I feel this is an opportunity to get some minutes into his legs which will be good for us and good for Nathan.

"Hopefully, he performs so well that he makes Frank pick him for Everton. I know Frank well and I’ve had a little conversation with him about Nathan but obviously Frank is in a situation where he is scrapping for points to stay in the Premier League. It’s difficult when your captain is also a right back in Seamus Coleman.”

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Clarke also revealed that Ryan Fraser had apologised for the situation last year when he pulled out of the Scotland squad for the games against Moldova and Denmark citing injury only to be later photographed training with Newcastle.

Clarke suggested at the time that it was a poor decision on the part of the player and he would find it difficult to break back into the squad.

This has been underlined by his absence from the latest squad despite recent good form for resurgent Newcastle. Clarke stressed in November that the situation would “resolve itself in time” but it seems more time is necessary to complete his rehabilitation despite the player’s contrition.

“I’d a really good conversation with Ryan Fraser,” said Clarke. “He apologised for the way it turned out in November.

“I’d a good conversation and decided not to pick him for this camp but I’ve told him that his performances for Newcastle will determine whether he’s selected for any ongoing squads. That’s how we left that one.

“He said sorry so that’s normally a sign that you accept that you didn’t deal with the situation properly.”

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