Steve Clarke talks up Leigh Griffiths' strike rivals; Celtic man looks set to be snubbed tonight
Leigh Griffiths’ chances of getting a spot in Scotland’s starting XI tonight look even worse after Steve Clarke bigged up his two strike rivals.
Scotland face Serbia in the country’s most important match in a generation this evening. Victory in the Euro 2020 playoff would see the Tartan Army end a ridiculously-long 22-year wait to qualify for a major tournament.
Griffiths has proven himself to be far and away the most talented striker Scotland has at its disposal. However, he hasn’t played regularly this season under Neil Lennon, with international rivals Oli McBurnie and Lyndon Dykes consistently starting down south.
And Clarke moved to big both of those players up as he provided further evidence that suggests he won’t be starting the Celtic man tonight.
As quoted by the Daily Record, the Scotland boss said: “I’m still an Oli McBurnie fan because he’s still got a lot to offer us. When you look at the last two games he’s hit the frame of the goal twice and you’re always thinking in the back of your mind, ‘He’s a due a goal – there’s a goal going to come from him’.
“Lyndon will be fine if he is selected to start the game. He will be fine because he has a good mentality and is very confident. He is a confident person and I think he has adapted really well to his move to London.
He is in a good place and has been a good player for us in recent matches so I have no worries with Lyndon on that front. His mentality is good and he will become a big- game player. We will see that tomorrow night.”
McBurnie has done nothing to place him over Griffiths
You can understand why Clarke would want to go with Dykes this evening given that the Aussie-born QPR striker has scored in each of our last two international breaks.
However, McBurnie over Griffths? Spare me – the former couldn’t lace the Celtic man’s boots when it comes to raw ability. 12 international games so far and he’s barely come close to scoring. Yes, he’s hit the woodwork on two occasions. Wow.
Clarke has to get his selection decisions absolutely spot on tonight. He can’t mess this up because he didn’t play the right players. It looks almost certain that he’ll go with a one-striker system, but he can’t go throwing McBurnie on ahead of Griffiths at any stage tonight.
Yes, I’m aware this is an article that could be highlighted tomorrow if McBurnie somehow manages to become the hero. But if he does start, it wouldn’t be deserved based on his performances in dark blue in the past.
For me, I wouldn’t drop Griffiths against anyone. He’s an exceptional finisher who’s rattled home more than 200 goals for Celtic and has done it on the biggest stage with Scotland. If he’s fit then he plays – it’s as simple as that.
Unfortunately, it now looks almost certain that Clarke will snub the Celtic man in favour of the English-based duo.