Oliver Burke’s chance for Scotland ultimately faded away after he failed to seize the moment.
It was the Celtic man’s big opportunity to impress Alex McLeish and the Scotland supporters. This was his first international call-up in two years, and his form at Celtic merited it.
Playing on the left against Kazakhstan, Burke showed early promise. Darting past the ful-back on numerous occasions, he looked in the mood to shine.
Unfortunately, when he did get some space down that left flank, his final ball was dreadful. He failed to find a Scotland jersey once with his cut-backs or crosses. Despite looking like one of Scotland’s brighter players in that opening stage, he ultimately drifted out of the game.
So much so that he wasn’t actually involved in any capacity against San Marino yesterday. Burke was left on the bench as McLeish chose Ryan Fraser to feature over him.
Where Burke can have some relief is in the knowledhe that Fraser was just as ineffective. The Bournemouth man looked a threat on occasion, but against San Marino that’s nothing to shout about. Burke would likely have done similar.
But given this was his first international chance in two years, you feel Burke had to show more. It was an opportunity that stemmed from a renaissance with the Hoops. Yet, when it came to showing what he could do in a dark blue jersey, the Celtic man came up short.
Burke may not be first-choice in June
McLeish will surely expect to have more options in June for the matches against Cyprus and Belgium respectively. Burke could easily find himself back on the international scrapheap if he doesn’t continue to show what gave him this first opportunity.
And this all now comes down to what Burke plans to do in the summer. If he heads to West Brom and is frozen out, he can forget having any part to play at international level.
On the other hand, however, if he stays at Parkhead going into next season, he’s well in the international spotlight up here.
McLeish has shown that he has no hesitation in throwing Scottish Premiership players into his side. Burke may have blown this opportunity, but his decision-making between now and next season will be just as important as his form with regards to an international future.
Of course, West Brom haven’t given any indication he can leave in the summer. That’s another potential roadblock for Burke, who’ll have a further three years on his Baggies contract after this season.
But all he can do is make himself an attractive summer target. Celtic have the cash to spend if a player is deemed worthy of it.
Burke, for his international sake, needs to prove that he is. It might just be what saves his Scotland chances.