Lyndon Dykes set to lead Scotland line against Spain as John McGinn tipped to join elite club

Lyndon Dykes is set to lead the forward line for Scotland against Spain on Tuesday after Che Adams withdrew from the squad due to injury.
Lyndon Dykes impressed for Scotland after coming on against Cyprus.Lyndon Dykes impressed for Scotland after coming on against Cyprus.
Lyndon Dykes impressed for Scotland after coming on against Cyprus.

Adams was selected for Scotland’s opening Euro 2024 qualifier on Saturday as Steve Clarke’s men began their Group A campaign with a comfortable 3-0 win over Cyprus. However, the Southampton forward had to leave the field of play early in the second half due to a calf complaint. Dykes came on to replace him and assisted Scott McTominay for Scotland’s crucial second goal towards the end of the game.

The Scottish Football Association confirmed on Sunday morning that Adams will not be fit for selection when the Spanish visit Hampden and that he has left the squad. Celtic defender Anthony Ralston has also pulled out, with Hearts forward Lawrence Shankland recalled to the squad for the first time since 2020. The 27-year-old has been capped four times for Scotland, scoring once, and has been in excellent form for his club this season, netting 21 times. However, he is likely to be back-up to Dykes, who recently recovered from pneumonia but looked in good shape in the latter stages against the Cypriots.

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Clarke will have no qualms about handing the shirt to the former Livingston hitman. “He probably wasn’t happy with me that he wasn’t starting against Cyprus but that’s the kind of characters you want in the squad,” the manager said. “You want everybody looking at you saying, ‘pick me, pick me’ Lyndon came on to the pitch and I thought he was really good.”

While Dykes will be charged with being the primary source of goals against the Spain, Clarke is taking heart from the attacking contribution of midfielder John McGinn, who opened the scoring against Cyprus and has now chalked up a very healthy 16 goals in 53 appearances. The Aston Villa skipper leaped into seventh place in the all-time Scotland scoring charts, above Robert Hamilton and James McFadden, and is two behind Kenny Miller on 18 and three off Ally McCoist’s total of 19.

Only four players – Denis Law, Kenny Dalglish, Hughie Gallacher and Lawrie Reilly – have scored more than 20 times for Scotland and when asked if McGinn could break into that category, Clarke replied: “Yeah, it’s realistic. It’s realistic to think about catching the next one. Kenny Miller is the next one he catches and I was saying to Ally McCoist when I did the television, ‘he’s coming for you too!’ So it’s good, his contribution since I became head coach has been really good for the country. I think John enjoys the role we give him within the team. He enjoys being one of the talismen and leaders, so it’s great for everybody.

"All the boys in their own way have enthusiasm John is probably a little bit more of a character than some of them, maybe not quite as quiet as some of them. But it is good to have leaders. John is a good leader, Callum McGregor is a good leader, Grant Hanley captains his club, Robbo [Andy Robertso] is the captain here. So we have a lot of good leaders in the squad and John is certainly influential within that group of players. He is influential with the whole group of players.”

Despite the win over Cyprus, Clarke knows his players will need a more comprehensive performance against Spain. “I said, ‘for 30 minutes I was loving what they were doing’,” Clarke added. “But after that they stopped and became a little bit sloppy. That gave the opposition the feeling they could get something from the game. We have to learn from that. We have to be a little bit more ruthless and clinical. It might have felt nice to be popping the ball around in front of 50,000 but we started making mistakes in possession and they got a little bit of life from that. We have to be better at that.”