Doing it the hard way
Scotland notoriously find all manner of means to break Tartan Army hearts – penalties would have been the latest. But not this time. In these strangest of times and this particularly unusual year, it was Scotland who prevailed in the unfamiliar territory of an international shoot-out – we’re never in a knock-out position to contest them, are we?
It was a test of nerve and mentality and with all five spot-kicks scored there’s confidence to be taken, even if the performance was tough to take at times.
Old Firm duo
Celtic don’t have their problems to seek from this international break with an Old Firm game little over a week away. Odsonne Edouard’s positive COVID test and Ryan Christie’s enforced isolation are already casting a shadow on preparations. After two hours in the Hampden midfield Neil Lennon could do without much more football for Callum McGregor and will surely be keen he is rested and released back to Lennoxtown without much, or any, involvement in Scotland’s next two games.
Likewise Steven Gerrard and Ryan Jack – just back from injury and completing the vast majority of the initial 90 minutes – having the best players available is paramount for both sides next weekend.
After all that’s gone on, each of the managers will just want their players back safe, sound, healthy and available to prepare for their next big game a week on Saturday.
After a disrupted build-up Steve Clarke’s players saw Scotland through – just. He’ll hope to have Stuart Armstrong back and healthy by the time the match in Serbia comes along, likewise Kieran Tierney and Ryan Christie. Leigh Griffiths’ return is also a bright light on the international horizon.
But who drops out?
Declan Gallagher stepped up and deserves a recall and more involvement. Oli McBurnie ran the hard yards for the cause while Kenny McLean and Lawrence Shankland showed some big-game mentality.
After a positive test causing him a selection headache, the performances of those left and the possibility of more returning gives the manager a different selection poser – and that’s a positive headache to have.