'That's for the fairies' - Pundits have say on Scotland defensive conundrum ahead of Euro 2020

The quandary faced by Scotland managers over where to play Kieran Tierney and Andy Robertson has been a hot topic since the pair first played in the same national team in March 2017.

Kieran Tierney, left, and Andy Robertson in action for Scotland. Steve Clarke has identified a system that fits both players
Kieran Tierney, left, and Andy Robertson in action for Scotland. Steve Clarke has identified a system that fits both players

In that game – a 1-0 win over Slovakia – the Liverpool defender started at left-back with the then Celtic full-back on the right of a back four.

Gordon Strachan and Alex McLeish tried various combinations to include both players in the same team, with current boss Steve Clarke picking Tierney as a left-sided centre-half and Robertson as a left wingback.

Former Scotland boss Craig Levein and BBC pundit Tom English have backed that solution ahead of next summer’s European Championships.

Speaking on Radio Scotland’s Sportsound programme, English said: “I think Tierney was the best player on the park [against Slovakia]; I thought he was fantastic playing that left wingback role.


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"He's also a very good left centre-half. That formation has worked; it's got Scotland to the Euros. Are we saying that Andy Robertson is not going to be in the team? That's for the fairies.

"It's a great option to have if you need it – to move Tierney to left wingback – because he's such a versatile and outstanding footballer, but no: Tierney at left centre-half, Robertson at left wingback."

Levein added: "It was good seeing the attacking intent from Tierney against Slovakia. He did that a lot at Celtic; I haven't seen so much of it at Arsenal where he's been playing as a centre-half recently, but he showed real drive and determination to get forward and create chances.

"In that system the two wingbacks not only have to create chances, they have to score when they're the only player in the wide area and can get in at the back post when the ball's on the other side.


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"Liam Palmer nearly scored against Slovakia and if Tierney had been a bit braver on occasion he could have had a couple of opportunities.”

Pressed on the positional dilemma, Levein commented: “I think we're really lucky to have two players of that quality and the fact Tierney is playing centre-back for Arsenal… I know he didn't have a particularly great game last week, but he's in form and will feel brilliant after his performance against Slovakia."

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