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Scotland squad: Steve Clarke selects five uncapped players

Clarke has not ‘picked Kilmarnock players for the sake of it’

New Scotland manager Steve Clarke has named five uncapped players in his first squad for June’s Euro 2020 qualifiers with Cyprus and Belgium.

Kilmarnock defenders Stuart Findlay, Greg Taylor and forward Eamonn Brophy worked under Clarke at Rugby Park.

Livingston goalkeeper Liam Kelly and Aberdeen defender Michael Devlin could also win their first caps.

“People will probably think, ‘he’s just picking Kilmarnock players for the sake of it’. It’s not true,” Clarke said.

“All the boys deserve to be there. Stephen O’Donnell is an established player at right-back – seven caps. Stuart Findlay was in the last squad and has had a great season.

“It was a case of promoting Greg up from the very good performances he has had for Scotland Under-21s. Up front I have a lot of injury problems and Eamonn was an obvious choice for me.”

Alex McLeish was sacked as Scotland manager after the national team lost 3-0 in Kazakhstan and won 2-0 in San Marino in the opening two qualifiers, with Clarke leaving Kilmarnock to take over last week.

Clarke’s assistant at Rugby Park, Alex Dyer, will join him when Scotland are in camp while remaining full-time with Kilmarnock.

Former Republic of Ireland defender Steven Reid will also join Clarke’s national back-room team, with Celtic’s Stevie Woods continuing as goalkeeping coach.

However, Kilmarnock have said goalkeeping coach Billy Thomson will be available to help Clarke for his first double-header meet as Woods has a prior commitment.

Midfielder John Fleck, who was in McLeish’s last squad, also has a prior commitment and Clarke indicated that was the reason other previous squad members had not been included.

He also said that young midfielder David Turnbull of Motherwell and Aberdeen’s Lewis Ferguson were unlucky to miss out.

Scotland, like Cyprus, Russia and Kazakhstan, have one win from two matches in Group I. Cyprus visit Hampden on 8 June before Clarke’s side travel to take on Belgium three days later.

Scotland squad

Goalkeepers: Scott Bain (Celtic), Liam Kelly (Livingston), David Marshall (Hull City), Jon McLaughlin (Sunderland)

Defenders: Michael Devlin (Aberdeen), Stuart Findlay (Kilmarnock), Scott McKenna (Aberdeen), Charlie Mulgrew (Blackburn Rovers), Stephen O’Donnell (Kilmarnock), Liam Palmer (Sheffield Wednesday), Andrew Robertson (Liverpool), John Souttar (Heart of Midlothian), Greg Taylor (Kilmarnock)

Midfielders: Stuart Armstrong (Southampton), Tom Cairney (Fulham), John McGinn (Aston Villa), Callum McGregor (Celtic), Kenny McLean (Norwich City), Scott McTominay (Manchester United), Graeme Shinnie (Aberdeen)

Forwards: Eamonn Brophy (Kilmarnock), Oliver Burke (Celtic, on loan from West Brom), James Forrest (Celtic), Ryan Fraser (Bournemouth), Marc McNulty (Hibernian, on loan from Reading), Lewis Morgan (Sunderland, on loan from Celtic), Johnny Russell (Sporting Kansas City)

Brophy or Burke up front? – analysis

Former Scotland striker Steven Thompson

I am going to go a bit left-field and suggest that Eamonn Brophy might start. We are not blessed with a lot of options up front. Out best player, Leigh Griffiths, hopefully he’s back playing football next season. Callum Paterson started the last game up front and that just shows you the problems we have in that area.

Former Scotland midfielder Michael Stewart

I would be surprised if Eamonn Brophy started the game. He’s done really well and obviously Steve Clarke knows him extremely well. When Brendan Rodgers was at Celtic, he got the best out of Oli Burke playing him as a number nine. He is a player who has his deficiencies, but he is someone whose strengths we can utilise and Steve Clarke is of the same ilk as Rodgers.

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