Major Scotland injury doubt opens door to Euros for Celtic midfielder

By Euan Davidson

May 8, 2021

It’s never a good thing to revel in an injury, but Celtic midfielder David Turnbull could be closer to a massive Scotland opportunity.

Kenny McLean, an outstanding midfielder for Norwich City, limped off today against Barnsley [Sun]. The former Aberdeen man is said to have picked up medial ligament damage. It could rule the recently promoted Canaries midfielder out of the Euros. Scotland’s first match in a major tournament since 1998 is just five weeks away.

Sad as that is for McLean, barring a Tierney-style recovery, it leaves a big space in the Scotland squad. It’s a space that needs to be filled by the fantastic David Turnbull.

Turnbull, a SFWA nominee for Young Player of the Year, could also be Celtic’s Player of the Year this season. Certainly, there’s an argument for it. The ex-Motherwell man only really got going in late 2020, but his impact has been enormous. 8 goals and 7 assists from midfield, in just 33 outings for the Bhoys, is magnificent stuff [Transfermarkt].

Always armed with a bit of magic, Turnbull’s passing and dead-ball prowess surely make him a good bet for Steve Clarke. While this generation of Scotland players is full of talented midfielders, Turnbull’s form cannot be ignored. The likes of John McGinn, Stuart Armstrong and Callum McGregor should be certainties, but the Wishaw-born ex-Steelman is at least a fantastic bench option.

Scotland manager Steve Clarke / (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

Scotland manager has much to ponder, but Turnbull should be a shoo-in

Primarily a central midfielder, it’s worth noting that Turnbull also has experience playing on either flank. More of a traditional left or right midfielder than an attacking winger, the Celtic star offers positional flexibility. That could prove useful if Scotland are relying on counter attacks, and forcing the opposition further infield.

It’s his creativity that sets him apart, though. Really, Turnbull should have double the assists for Celtic. His key pass numbers are phenomenal, and his vision has created countless opportunities for the Bhoys this season. Adept at finding runs with crisp, low passes or lofted balls over defenders, Turnbull’s passing range and accuracy are considerable.

He wouldn’t be a guaranteed starter for Scotland, and make no mistake. Still, you’ve got to imagine Steve Clarke has been agonising over his midfield, and that headache should culminate with Turnbull getting in the squad somewhere. After all, with Ryan Jack and now Kenny McLean set to miss the Euros, there can’t be a more obvious replacement than the man who has saved Celtic on a number of occasions, even at just 21.

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