Scotland reporter notebook: Lawrence Shankland call-up shows form is key under Steve Clarke
SSN reporter Luke Shanley looks ahead to Scotland's European qualifiers against Russia and San Marino, live on Sky Sports
By Luke Shanley, Sky Sports News reporter
Last Updated: 01/10/19 11:03pm
Dundee United striker Lawrence Shankland was called into the Scotland squad for the forthcoming Euro 2020 qualifiers, with manager Steve Clarke on the look-out for goals.
The 24-year-old has been selected for next month's European Championship qualifiers against Russia and San Marino - both live on Sky Sports - after netting 15 goals in 12 appearances for United following his summer switch from Ayr.
Oli Burke has won a recall while uncapped Sheffield United midfielder John Fleck is also included.
- Tierney not included in Scotland squad
- Euro 2020 qualifying fixtures
- Old Firm and Edinburgh derbies live on Sky
Sky Sports News reporter Luke Shanley provides his analysis of Clarke's decision to replace the injured Steven Naismith with Shankland, Burke's recall and the inclusion of Fleck...
Late developer Shankland a natural goalscorer
Scoring goals have been an issue for Scotland recently and that is the reason Lawrence Shankland is in the squad.
He may only be playing in Scotland's second tier but he is no stranger to finding the back of the net. His tally of 15 goals in 12 appearances for Dundee United is impressive as they look to earn promotion at the fourth time of asking.
The striker left Ayr United in the summer and it was expected he would move south or to Scotland's top league.
That didn't happen but nobody at Dundee United is complaining. The 24-year-old is a late developer compared with his former Queen's Park team-mate Andrew Robertson but will be looking to make his debut in the upcoming double header while adding competition in the squad.
Leigh Griffiths is injured and there is no Naismith. John McGinn was the last player to be selected from the Scottish Championship while with Hibernian. It shows form is key despite others playing at a higher level not being included.
Midfield depth leaves Armstrong on the outside
Elsewhere, Scotland's strength in midfield is shown by the fact Stuart Armstrong has been omitted to give John Fleck the chance to impress.
The Sheffield United man is a regular for Chris Wilder while Armstrong has had to be content coming off the bench for Southampton. Scott McTominay is suspended for the Russia game meaning Clarke may mix things up.
Oli Burke also returns, his goal gave Steve Clarke a win in his first game in charge. Scotland have struggled since then while Burke has made the move to Spain on loan seeking regular football.
Kieran Tierney is not included. Clarke says that is down to a request by Arsenal and an understanding that he is returning from injury and has played little football. Clarke admits he wants to work with him but won't rush him.
Greg Taylor remains in the squad as cover at left-back while Ryan Jack is also included. He aggravated a knee complaint while on international duty last month.
Clarke seeks improved Rangers relations
The Scotland head coach admits the communication between his coaching staff and Rangers could have been better after Steven Gerrard complained that Jack's workload after an Old Firm game led to the issue.
This is an injury Clarke claims he was unaware of and felt Gerrard's complaints should have been made in private.
Scotland are preparing for the play-offs, but this double-header provides different challenges - a tough trip to Russia then a home game against the worst team in the World in San Marino.
Clarke will want to improve results while continuing to get his message across. The odd fresh face may give him some food for thought.
Goalkeepers: Craig MacGillivray (Portsmouth), David Marshall (Wigan Athletic), Jon McLaughlin (Sunderland)
Defenders: Liam Cooper (Leeds United), Michael Devlin (Aberdeen), Grant Hanley (Norwich City), Charlie Mulgrew (Wigan Athletic), Stephen O'Donnell (Kilmarnock), Liam Palmer (Sheffield Wednesday), Andrew Robertson (Liverpool), Greg Taylor (Celtic)
Midfielders: Ryan Christie (Celtic), John Fleck (Sheffield United), Ryan Jack (Rangers), John McGinn (Aston Villa), Callum McGregor (Celtic), Kenny McLean (Norwich City), Scott McTominay (Manchester United), Robert Snodgrass (West Ham)
Forwards: Oliver Burke (Alaves), James Forrest (Celtic), Ryan Fraser (AFC Bournemouth), Oliver McBurnie (Sheffield United), Johnny Russell (Sporting Kansas City), Lawrence Shankland (Dundee United)
Watch Russia vs Scotland on Sky Sports Football on Thursday October 10 with coverage starting at 7pm.