Craig Brown: Our star columnist reveals his preferred starting line-up for Scotland at Euros

Scotland manager Steve Clarke says he faces a Euro 2020 selection headache due to the strength in depth of his squad.

Friday, 11th June 2021, 2:20 pm
Lyndon Dykes has been a regular starter for Scotland but, in his latest column, ex-national team boss Craig Brown reveals that the striker wouldn't make it into his Scotland starting 11 (Pic by Christian Kaspar-Bartke/Getty Images)

Clarke picked two vastly different line-ups for friendlies in which the Scots impressed in recent days, a 2-2 draw against Holland last Wednesday and a 1-0 win over Luxembourg on Sunday.

His first conundrum is who to pick in goal between the vastly experienced pair of Craig Gordon, who played against Holland, and David Marshall, who was between the sticks against Luxembourg.

For the tournament opener against the Czech Republic, I would pick either Marshall or Gordon very happily, but I think Marshall is the man in possession, especially after those penalty kick heroics in qualifying.

I would play Marshall because of the qualification campaign and the contribution he made, but I don’t think there’s anything in it. It’s so close.

In defence, Liverpool ace Andy Robertson is a no-brainer at left wing-back as he’s world class, but the right wing-back berth is being fought out between Stephen O’Donnell of Motherwell, Celtic’s James Forrest and young Rangers right-back Nathan Patterson.

O’Donnell definitely gets the nod for me because successful international teams are experienced teams. He is better defensively than Forrest.

That doesn’t bar you from playing a young boy, but when experience is required – and it will be in this tournament – I would go for O’Donnell. The time to bring on Patterson is when we’re three up!

O’Donnell has decent pace, his delivery of the ball is very good, his final pass is superb quite often and he can get up and shoot for goal as well.

He’s a sound and very competent full-back without an obvious weakness.

If we’re playing three centre-backs, I’d plump for Kieran Tierney of Arsenal, Leeds United’s Liam Cooper and Scott McKenna, formerly of Aberdeen and now at Nottingham Forest.

Tierney is just absolutely out of this world, fantastic. He’s as good a full-back as you could get and also when playing left side of a three-man defence.

From what I’ve seen on television, Cooper has done exceptionally well for his club.

And McKenna is a very good player. The terrific asset that he has got is pace.

I have never seen a striker – even when Aberdeen played Burnley in Europe – outpace him.

In midfield, Aston Villa’s John McGinn and Scott McTominay of Manchester United are outstanding, guys playing at the highest level in England, so they have to get into Scotland’s starting line-up.

My third choice in midfield is most difficult, but I’d pick Callum McGregor. Every time I saw Celtic last season, he was their best player. I saw every game against Aberdeen and other games and he was absolutely outstanding.

Stuart Armstrong, Ryan Christie, David Turnbull and Billy Gilmour are also excellent midfielders, but I would start them on the bench.

Up front, it’s tricky because we have some fine players. I know Lyndon Dykes has been getting picked regularly to start for Scotland, but I wouldn’t start with him. I would have Che Adams with wee Ryan Fraser instead playing in behind him.

I’ve only seen Adams on TV, but clearly he should be in our starting line-up as he’s doing well in the English Premier League with Southampton.

I know Fraser because I had him as a player at Aberdeen and he can guarantee an electric performance. He’s quick, he’s strong and he can score a goal.