Steve Clarke explains why Oli McBurnie played for Sheffield United after pulling out of Scotland squad

Steve Clarke has sought to explain why striker Oli McBurnie featured in a friendly for Sheffield United two days after pulling out of the Scotland squad for Friday’s Nations League clash with Israel.

Sheffield United's Scotland striker Oli McBurnie played against Derby County.
Sheffield United's Scotland striker Oli McBurnie played against Derby County.

The Scotland manager released a statement after some Scotland fans expressed dismay at McBurnie having come on at half-time against Derby County at Pride Park stadium. Sheffield United won 2-0 with goals from Ben Osborn and Billy Sharp.

Clarke revealed he had agreed with Sheffield United manager Billy Wilder that the striker, who is yet to score for Scotland after nine appearances, should stay at his club and work on his fitness during the international break.

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“I spoke to Chris Wilder at the end of last week and he told me Oli hadn’t been training because he had a laceration in his foot that had become infected and that he wouldn’t be fit enough to play at international level,” said Clarke. “Chris is one of the most honest men in football and we had a good discussion about where Oli was at.

“People have to remember there’s a world of difference between getting some minutes in a pre-season friendly and preparing for an international double header. After discussions with the medical team and sports science team it made sense for everyone for Oli to stay at Sheffield and work on his fitness.”

Scotland play Israel on Friday before facing Czech Republic in Olomouc on Monday. Lawrence Shankland, the Dundee United striker, withdrew from the squad on Sunday along with McBurnie to leave Scotland light on options up front.

The uncapped Lyndon Dykes is now in line to start against the Israelis after opting to represent Scotland rather than Australia, the country of his birth. The former Livingston striker, whose parents are from Dumfries, joined Queens Park Rangers last week in a £2 million move.

Cardiff City’s Callum Paterson was called into the squad on Sunday and could also feature in the double header.

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