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The National (Scotland)
The National (Scotland)
Matthew Lindsay

Steve Clarke tips John McGinn to join Scotland goalscoring icons after Che Adams blow

STEVE Clarke has tipped John McGinn to leapfrog Kenny Miller and Ally McCoist in Scotland’s all-time scoring charts ahead of his side’s Euro 2024 qualifier against Spain tomorrow night.

McGinn moved ahead of Robert Hamilton and James McFadden when he netted his 16th international goal in the 3-0 triumph over Cyprus at Hampden on Saturday.

Only Denis Law and Kenny Dalglish (both 30), Hughie Gallacher (24), Lawrie Reilly (22), McCoist (19) and Miller (18) have now netted more times for their country.

Clarke will be without his first choice striker Che Adams for the second Group A match; the Southampton man limped off with a calf injury at the weekend and left the squad yesterday.

Lawrence Shankland of Hearts, the four-times capped 27-year-old who has netted 21 times for the Tynecastle club in all competitions in the 2022/23 campaign, has been called up as a replacement.  

However, the Scotland manager was pleased with the contribution that Lyndon Dykes made after replacing Adams on Saturday – and is confident that McGinn can build on his international tally even further in future.

Asked if McGinn could become the fifth player to net 20 or more goals for Scotland after Law, Dalglish, Gallacher and Reilly, he said: “Yeah, it’s realistic. It’s realistic to think about catching the next one. 

“Kenny Miller is the next one he catches and I was saying to Ally McCoist when I did the television ‘he’s coming for you too!’. It’s good. His contribution since I became head coach has been really good for the country.”

Clarke added: “I think John enjoys the role we give him within the team. He enjoys being one of the talismen and leaders, so it’s great for everybody.” 

 “All the boys in their own way have enthusiasm. John is probably a little bit more of a character than some of them, maybe not quite as quiet as some of them. 

 “But it is good to have leaders. John is a good leader, Callum McGregor is a good leader, Grant Hanley captains his club, Robbo (Andy Robertson) is the captain here. 

“So we have a lot of good leaders in the squad and John is certainly influential within that group of players. He is influential with the whole group of players.” 

Asked about Dykes coming in to face Spain, he said: “He probably wasn’t happy with me that he wasn’t starting today, but that’s the kind of characters you want in the squad. 

“You want everybody looking at you saying: ‘Pick me! Pick me!’ Lyndon came on to the pitch and I thought he was really good. Happy days eh? Two good strikers.” 

Clarke added: “It’s nice when I can turn to my bench and bring on (Ryan) Christie, McTominay and Dykes and suddenly they have the energy and the legs to drive us forward and get the next goal. 

 “Ryan’s part in both goals is excellent. Dykesy’s header for Scott’s first goal is an unbelievable lay—off. It’s nice that you can bring that on.”

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