Steve Clarke avoids Ryan Fraser distraction but praises commitment of remaining Scotland squad heading to Moldova

Steve Clarke has praised Lyndon Dykes’ commitment to the Scotland cause amid growing uncertainty about Ryan Fraser’s future international prospects.

The Scotland manager has revealed he had to step in to prevent the suspended Dykes flying to Chisinau to support his teammates in tonight’s crucial Group F World Cup qualifier against Moldova.

Clarke provided this information after being asked for his reaction to the emergence of photographs of Fraser training with his Newcastle United teammates earlier this week having already pulled out of the Scotland squad citing a calf injury.

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The Scotland manager showed considerable faith in Fraser by playing him from the start in Scotland’s last outing against the Faroe Isles despite pressure to select Nathan Patterson at right wingback.

Head Coach Steve Clarke during Scotland National team's trainig session at La Finca Resort, on November 11, 2021, in La Finca, Spain. (Photo by Jose Breton / SNS Group)

Fraser withdrew from this squad amid speculation he was opting to stay on Tyneside in a bid to gain favour with new manager Eddie Howe. They previously worked together at Bournemouth but the Scot’s time ended on a sour note when he refused to sign a temporary contract to play the remainder of the 2019-20 season following lockdown.

Clarke could not disguise his frustration at the Fraser situation rearing its head on the eve of a such an important game against Moldova. The Scots need three points to secure a World Cup play-off spot. They play Denmark at Hampden on Monday in their final group game.

The Scotland manager is clearly not oblivious to the poor signals that have been sent out by Fraser withdrawing from national duty while being able to train with his club.

“The best way to answer that one is to say I have a squad of players who want to be here,” he said. "They’re all here so let’s talk about those boys.

Uncertainty surrounds the international future of Ryan Fraser after his withdrawal from the latest Scotland squad. (Photo by George Wood/Getty Images)

"The situation with Ryan will resolve itself in time. Listen, it is what it is. This is not the time to talk about somebody who is not in the squad. We have built a really strong squad.

“I had to persuade Lyndon Dykes it was a bad idea to fly to Moldova!” Clarke continued. “He’s not with us just now, suspended for the Moldova game. He’s also had a little virus and a little knock after his last game.

But he phoned us and said he wanted to fly to Moldova just to watch the game.

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"He was prepared to get on a plane for three hours to watch the team and then fly back to Edinburgh. I managed to persuade him that he didn’t need to do. With the game on Monday, that wasn’t such a good idea.”

Steve Clarke also revealed he had talked Lyndon Dykes out of a trip to support the Scots in Chisinau. (Photo by Jose Breton / SNS Group)

“But it shows you the level of commitment I have from the boys in the squad. That’s what we’re building and I’d rather talk about those people.

"That commitment is massive for us," he continued. "It’s why, when you need to score a late goal, that spirit and togetherness is there. That’s when it shines through. That’s when you see it, when we get a result that could have gone the other way.”

Clarke is confident Scotland can overcome the loss of Scott McTominay, who has been sent home to recuperate after picking up a virus.

“It’s not Covid-related, it’s more like a tonsillitis-type thing,” he explained. The hope is the Manchester United midfielder can re-join the squad before the Denmark match.

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