Why Scott McTominay's 'freed-up' Scotland spaceisn't making life any easier for Declan Gallagher

Declan Gallagher does not believe the likely employment of Scott McTominay in midfield will make his task of reclaiming a defensive place any easier.

Declan Gallagher in action v Serbia in November when Scotland sealed their Euro 2020 place  (Photo by Nikola Krstic / SNS Group)
Declan Gallagher in action v Serbia in November when Scotland sealed their Euro 2020 place (Photo by Nikola Krstic / SNS Group)

The Aberdeen centre-half started five of Scotland’s last six games last year but has tasted only 28 minutes of international action in 2021.

These all came in Wednesday night’s 2-2 draw against the Netherlands after he replaced Leeds United skipper Liam Cooper.

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McTominay did not play on that occasion because he joined up with the squad late after Manchester United’s Europa League final defeat to Villarreal, when he starred in midfield.

Now it looks as if McTominay will continue in that role for Scotland meaning there are six centre-halves – including Kieran Tierney – fighting for three centre back places, providing Clarke persists with three-at-the-back.

Grant Hanley has started Scotland’s last three competitive games in the middle. Jack Hendry impressed at right centre back against the Netherlands and scored Scotland’s first goal. Gallagher is in line to start Scotland’s last pre-Euro 2020 warm-up tomorrow night against Luxembourg.

“The defence is playing well and there’s obvious competition for places,” said the defender. “There are a lot of really good players in the squad.

“It just shows the strength in depth. Remember, too, we had seven players left back at our training camp who didn’t travel for the Holland game.

“With Scott perhaps playing in midfield it will hopefully free up a space in defence. You can see how well he has done for Manchester United this season. It will be tough but competition for places is what you want.”

Gallagher won’t lack for support if he does play against Czech Republic a week on Monday. Wife Nikki plans to bring their three-month-old son Ashton to Hampden.

“We’ve been given some tickets,” he said. “I’m not sure how many, but the family will definitely be there. It will be my son’s first game of football. Not that he’ll ever remember it – and he’ll probably fall asleep during it. But my daughter, my wife, my wee boy, my parents and her parents, it’s great to have them there.”

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