Celtic star Scott Bain will have a big point to prove to Scotland manager Steve Clarke

By David Walton

June 3, 2019

Celtic goalkeeper Scott Bain will have both eyes on impressing new Scotland boss Steve Clarke this week.

Bain is one of four current Celtic players to be away with the Scotland national team for the upcoming games against Cyprus and Belgium respectively. Only Kieran Tierney hasn’t made it as he continues his recovery from a double-hernia operation. Lewis Morgan is also in there on account of his Sunderland displays.

Given it’s Clarke’s first official game as manager on Saturday when Cyprus visit Hampden, many will be out to impress. But perhaps none more than Bain.

Bain is the newest of the current batch of Celtic players in the squad when it comes to international football. His competitive debut in goal came in the disastrous 3-0 defeat in Kazakhstan. He followed it up with a clean sheet in the 2-0 success in San Marino. But that win hardly erased the dire memories of our Euro 2020 qualification opener

Scott Bain’s exceptional Celtic form provided him his international chance (Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

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But what makes this such an important two games for Bain is the fact that David Marshall has been called back into the squad. Marshall has had another fine year at Hull City, and has managed 27 international caps overall. He’s a veteran at this level at 34 years of age, and has proved to be a fine Scotland goalkeeper in the past.

Clarke even spoke about Marshall’s return to the squad, after failing to play a single game in the World Cup 2018 qualification campaign. And speaking in the Scottish Sun about him, this is what Clarke had to say:

“A big case with David would be that Allan McGregor and Craig Gordon were the go-to goalkeepers. It was maybe better to have a younger one as the third. I think that would be the main reason why David hadn’t been involved that much.

“He felt if the manager was going to pick those players in front of him, it was better he spent time with his family.”

Marshall will be breathing down Bain’s neck

International football is a cut-throat environment. With so many top pros available for each position, Bain, therefore, can’t afford to show some of the errors he did towards the end of the season.

David Marshall is back and available for Scotland once again (Matthew Ashton – AMA/Getty Images)

The Celtic shot-stopper was at fault for the Hearts equaliser at Celtic Park in the final day of the campaign with poor distribution. He then looked a bag of nerves at times in the Scottish Cup final at Hampden, often booting the ball into touch when not under much pressure.

But his stats also speak for itself. Bain has managed 23 clean sheets in his 33 matches this season. Marhsall, on the other hand, bagged just 11 in 44 Championship outings. And despite both Liam Kelly and Jon McLaughlin also being in the squad, Bain’s biggest threat comes from Marshall.

Bain vs Marshall is a welcome battle for Steve Clarke (Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

Belgium will take care of itself, but an impressive performance against Cyprus should keep Bain as the number one. But a poor display and Clarke would have all the reasons going to give Marshall another chance at a Scotland renaissance.

Bain may have overtaken Craig Gordon as Celtic and Scotland number one. But with the reliable ex-Celt Marshall now back available, Bain has a real battle on his hands regarding the international set-up.

Here’s hoping he does himself justice on Saturday, if selected. Clarke certainly sounds ready to change things up if he doesn’t.