Scotland at Euro 2024: Room for late additions to settled squad?

22 November 2023 0 By Total Football News

By Matthew ReedBBC Sport Scotland

Scotland party with fans after reaching Euro 2024

Much of Scotland's recent success has come from the consistent selection of a reliable and talented group of players.

There are not many obvious openings in the 23-man squad for next summer's Euros.

Head coach Steve Clarke has been loyal to his core group and that trust has been rewarded with just two defeats in the past two qualifying campaigns - away to Denmark and away to Spain.

But Clarke has shown he is open to new blood when it comes to tournament selection.

It is easy to forget that Billy Gilmour's player-of-the-match display at Wembley during Euro 2020 was only his third international appearance. The midfielder was selected for the first time the month before, featuring in two pre-tournament friendlies against Liechtenstein and the Netherlands.

So, are there any young players knocking on the door? Is there anyone who fancies switching allegiances? And could forgotten souls make a triumphant return?

BBC Sport Scotland takes a look.

The Young Ones

Could Ben Doak yet win a place in the senior Scotland squad?Ben Doak has scored twice in six outings for Scotland at Under-21 level

Ben Doak has always been marked for big things and this could be regarded as his breakthrough season. Having signed a new long-term deal with Liverpool in September, the 18-year-old forward has seen his playing time increased, notably in the Europa League.

Jurgen Klopp even went as far as to say one of the reasons his side lost to Toulouse was because they did not get the ball to the young Scot enough.

With Liverpool still involved in three competitions heading into the new year, there could be more opportunities for Doak to impress.

"He's obviously making great strides at Liverpool and I don't think Jurgen Klopp's someone who's easily impressed," said presenter Alasdair Lamont on the BBC's Scottish Football Podcast.

"He's had a couple of starts in the Europa League and a couple of other appearances but realistically he's going to have to be more involved in the second half of the season to have a chance. He does seem to be an exciting player."

Podcast guest and BBC Scotland presenter Lewis Irons added: "He's just not played enough. Clarke's not going to ignore the fact that he's not played enough."

Max Johnston of Sturm Graz is another teenager playing in the Europa League and had a taste of the senior squad for the recent friendly loss to France, but Scotland are well served in the full-back areas.

Auf Wiedersehen, Pet

Clarke has experience in drafting players who have family connections to Scotland and there is a trio on Tyneside that could be receptive to his call.

Elliot Anderson, Harvey Barnes and Tino Livramento ply their trade with Newcastle United and all three have the chance to wave goodbye to England in favour of a dark blue jersey. Anthony Gordon also qualifies but appears to have ruled out a switch.

Anderson, 21, was selected back in August only for the midfielder to pull out with an injury after a day's training. A media frenzy ensued with reports suggesting a change of heart. Clarke subsequently said the 'Geordie Maradona' (a nickname which has followed him since a loan spell at Bristol Rovers) has "a big decision to make" about his international future.

Livramento, who is also eligible for Portugal, has featured for England at youth level but the 21-year-old is behind the likes of Kyle Walker, Reece James, Trent Alexander-Arnold and Kieran Trippier in the right-back queue.

Clarke has good English Premier League options too, in Aaron Hickey and Nathan Patterson.

Harvey Barnes made his one England appearance in October 2020Harvey Barnes made his one England appearance in October 2020

Barnes, 25, has one senior England cap - a substitute cameo in a 3-0 win over Wales - but that was a friendly and reports suggested a Scotland call-up was imminent before a foot injury sidelined the winger until the new year.

If fit and amenable, Barnes looks like an upgrade for Scotland in the final third and could get the chance to press a claim in the four friendlies planned before the action starts in Germany, but that may depend on Doak's development since room for two is unlikely.

"He's a wee bit off an England place," said Irons. "He could have a big second half to the season. It is a position that we're generally quite weak in. It might be the next evolution of Clarke's team to have more natural wingers in the squad."

Return of familiar faces?

Clarke could choose to bring back some familiar faces, with Craig Gordon stepping up his recovery from a double leg break sustained on Christmas Eve 2022.

The 40-year-old goalkeeper with 74 caps is determined to prolong his career but in order to win his Scotland place back he would have to dislodge Zander Clark at Hearts, since his club-mate now appears to be the main understudy for Angus Gunn, who seized his chance in the absence of Gordon.

Ryan Fraser is another who was regularly picked during the initial stages of Clarke's tenure, but the former Aberdeen winger has found himself at the centre of a series of fallouts involving club and country, making his chances of a return look slim.

Now on loan with Southampton, most of his Championship appearances have come from the bench, although he has scored twice in his last five outings. You feel he will need to produce some eye-watering numbers to convince Clarke he is worthy of a seat on the plane.

"As for Ross Stewart, he's probably another long shot but it will be interesting to see how he performs at Southampton now that he's back fit after that massive injury lay-off," said Lamont.

"If, for example, he massively outscores Lyndon Dykes in the Championship in the second half of the season, it's not inconceivable he could beat him to a place in the plan, albeit I think Dykes has been terrific for Scotland."

And Irons commented: "David Turnbull, he's been around the squads before. I wouldn't be surprised to see him wriggle his way into the Scotland. He's top scorer [at Celtic] with Matt O'Riley and he's played half the minutes. He's shown he's got something."

Podcast guest and comedian Ray Bradshaw added: "John Souttar, I think there is a chance there. If Souttar has a good six months for Rangers, there's a pretty strong chance he will be in there.

"I still think there's a small chance that Oli McBurnie might get called up. When you look at our striker situation, I think there's one place up for grabs.

"If you've got a player in the Premier League scoring five, six, seven, eight, nine, 10 goals, when you've got guys like Stewart, Adams and Dykes maybe not getting that in the Championship, I think that is the argument."

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