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Scotland Euro 2024 squad: Will injuries impact who Steve Clarke names?

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With the countdown to Euro 2024 well and truly on, could injuries impact who makes Scotland head coach Steve Clarke’s final squad?

In recent weeks midfielder Lewis Ferguson underwent surgery, Stuart Armstrong had his season ended by injury, plus right-backs Nathan Patterson and Aaron Hickey remain big doubts.

The injuries will be a big blow for Clarke who is perhaps left with more decisions to make than he would have wanted at this stage of the season.

Following those friendly defeats in March, Scotland have just two more warm-up games – in June against Finland and Gibraltar – before their tournament opener against Germany.

Clarke has said the “core squad” from Scotland’s successful qualification campaign “deserve the chance to go to the Euros” – meaning he will have some very tough decisions to make over the coming weeks.

A total of 29 players featured across the eight Euro qualifiers but with just 23 – as it stands – allowed to board the plane to Germany, here is a look at who is in the mix…

Gordon to make remarkable return?

GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - MARCH 19: Craig Gordon and Angus Gunn during a Scotland training session at Lesser Hampden, on March 19, 2024, in Glasgow, Scotland.  (Photo by Craig Foy / SNS Group)
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Angus Gunn (right) is the new Scotland number one, having replaced Craig Gordon (left)

Norwich goalkeeper Angus Gunn beat off competition from Hearts’ Zander Clark and Motherwell’s Liam Kelly for the No 1 jersey at the start of the qualification campaign.

After pledging his allegiance to the nation – despite playing for England U21s – he took over from the injured Craig Gordon who had been recovering from a double leg break suffered in December 2022.

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After returning from a double leg break suffered against Dundee United – Hearts’ Craig Gordon says he is ready to board the plane to the Euros

However, at 41 years old, Gordon did return to the Scotland fold as one of four keepers for the March friendlies – although only three will head to Germany.

At club level, he was being kept out of action by Clark, but having recently played in the Scottish Premiership as well as four Scottish Cup matches – could the experienced stopper edge out others for a spot on the plane to Germany?

Zander Clark (left) has started in all of Hearts' league games in place of the returning Craig Gordon
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Zander Clark (left) is battling with Craig Gordon for the No 1 spot at Hearts

While Gunn played in both friendlies – Clarke did run the rule over his other options during training and suggested not only game time will come into his decision.

“I’ll assess everything I’ve got,” said the Scotland boss. “The make-up of the squad going into a tournament has other factors like squad stability and players who have been in the squad for a long time, so it’s going to be a tough decision.”

What are the right-back options?

Injured full-back Aaron Hickey last played in October 2023
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Injured full-back Aaron Hickey last played in October 2023

Clarke has been consistent in his back-line selections, with Hickey, Patterson, Ryan Porteous, Jack Hendry, Kieran Tierney and captain Andrew Robertson featuring in the most number of games.

Grant Hanley, Liam Cooper, John Souttar, Scott McKenna, Dominic Hyam, Anthony Ralston and Greg Taylor all played at some point during the eight qualifiers too.

However, injuries could play a part in Clarke’s final picks – especially at right-back.

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Scotland and Everton right-back Nathan Patterson will require surgery on a hamstring issue and is out for the rest of the season ahead of Euro 2024.

Hickey missed the March camp due to a hamstring issue that has kept him out since last October and is in a race to be fit for Germany. Patterson would have likely started in his place but the Everton player needs surgery on a hamstring injury and is also a huge doubt for the Euros.

Celtic’s Anthony Ralston could be an option but is not first choice at his club. Elsewhere, ex-Aberdeen defender Ross McCrorie is impressing at Bristol City – could he earn a shock return?

Former Motherwell player Max Johnston is also doing well in Austria after joining Sturm Graz and was a substitute for last year’s friendly against France.

Elsewhere, Hanley – who had been out for a year with an Achilles problem – withdrew from the March squad with an ankle problem and remains a doubt.

Ferguson set to miss out?

GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - MARCH 26: Scotland Manager Steve Clarke and  Lewis Ferguson at Full Time during an International Friendly match between Scotland and Northern Ireland at Hampden Park, on March 26, 2024, in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Craig Williamson / SNS Group)
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Lewis Ferguson featured as a substitute against both the Netherlands and Northern Ireland

Midfielders McGregor, John McGinn, Scott McTominay and Ryan Christie featured in every Euro qualifier – a feat only matched by forward Lyndon Dykes – suggesting Clarke will be consistent with his approach in the middle.

Stuart Armstrong (6), Kenny McLean (7) and Billy Gilmour (5) all featured regularly too and would be expected to board the plane to Germany.

TBILISI, GEORGIA - NOVEMBER 16: Scotland's Scott McTominay celebrates with Callum McGregor after scoring to make it 1-1 during a UEFA Euro 2024 Qualifier between Georgia and Scotland at the Boris Paichadze Dinamo Arena, on November 16, 2023, in Tbilisi, Georgia. (Photo by Craig Williamson / SNS Group)
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Scott McTominay, Callum McGregor and Lyndon Dykes played in every qualifier for Scotland

However, is Lewis Ferguson set to miss out? The Bologna captain has had surgery after rupturing his anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), with less than two months until that opening game against Germany.

Having featured in three qualifiers and both March friendlies, Ferguson looked likely to be part of Clarke’s plans.

Armstrong is also in a race to be fit after being stretchered off in Southampton’s defeat to Cardiff City, however, club boss Russell Martin says the player still has a “big chance” of making it.

Elsewhere, Rangers’ Ryan Jack looks set to miss out on another Euros. Like Ferguson, he played in three qualifiers but was injured for the March camp and missed the last Euros due to injury too.

Sky Sports pundit Kris Boyd said: “Even if there were some dips with his regulars, I don’t think Clarke would leave them out because he knows exactly what they can do when they come to camp.

“There might be the odd one who could force their way in but listening to Clarke he spoke about the group, the unity and the togetherness of that squad.

“The nucleus of it won’t change unless Steve Clarke can talk some of the English Premier League players to come out and play for Scotland, which is being spoken about.”

Will Shankland make Clarke’s cut?

AMSTERDAM, NETHERLANDS - MARCH 22: Scotland...s Lawrence Shankland after hitting the crossbar during an international friendly match between the Netherlands and Scotland at the Johan Cruyff Arena, on March 22, 2024, in Amsterdam, Netherlands. (Photo by Craig Williamson / SNS Group)
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Lawrence Shankland hit the crossbar after starting against the Netherlands

The real dilemma for Clarke could come at the top end of the pitch.

Lyndon Dykes and Che Adams are almost guaranteed to be in the squad, but who else could join them?

Having scored 21 goals in 32 league games, Hearts’ Lawrence Shankland also netted during Scotland’s draw in Georgia.

He started in the Netherlands – hitting the bar in the second half – and came on against Northern Ireland. If he maintains his goalscoring form at club level – a place on that plane to Germany should be secured.

However, the likes of Luton Town’s Jacob Brown, Sheffield United’s Oli McBurnie, and Millwall’s Kevin Nisbet will also be looking to force their way into Clarke’s plans.

 Scotland's Jacob Brown during a UEFA Euro 2024 Qualifier between Scotland and Norway at Hampden Park, on November 19, 2023, in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Alan Harvey / SNS Group)
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Jacob Brown started in Scotland’s draw against Norway in their final qualifier

Boyd said: “Che Adams is nailed on, Dykes has done really well for Scotland and you’d fancy him to go.

“Brown started against Norway and is probably the most similar to Che Adams in style. But for me, I’d have Lawrence Shankland on the flight all day long.

“You know if you create opportunities for him he’ll score goals. There was nobody in that Scotland squad against Georgia who scores the header he scored.”

Scotland’s Euro 2024 warm-up matches

June 3: Gibraltar (n), friendly, kick-off TBD

June 7: Finland (h), friendly, kick-off 7.45pm

Who do Scotland face at Euro 2024?

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Scotland boss Steve Clarke on Euro 2024, facing hosts Germany, the role of Scott McTominay, the fans and having a German beer!

Following the final friendlies against Gibraltar and Finland, Scotland will head to their Euro 2024 base camp located in the Bavarian resort of Garmisch-Partenkirchen on June 9.

Clarke’s side play the tournament’s opening match against hosts Germany at the Allianz Arena on June 14.

The Scots also face games against perennial qualifiers Switzerland and Hungary, who reached the knockout stages in 2016.

Scotland

Scotland have history kicking off tournaments, having been drawn to face Brazil in the opener at World Cup 1998, a game they narrowly lost 2-1 to a second-half Tom Boyd own goal.

This time they begin at the Allianz Arena before facing Switzerland in Cologne on June 19, with Hungary awaiting in Stuttgart on June 23.

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