Scotland: Steve Clarke faces dilemmas before naming his team for the friendly match against Turkey

Scottish assistant John Carver and head coach Steve Clarke recently featured in Hibernian against St Johnstone

Scotland head coach Steve Clarke begins his preparations for a new campaign with new twists added to familiar issues.

The Scots travel to Diyarbakir to face Turkey on November 16 in what is their only warm-up friendly before plunging into a tough Euro 2024 qualifying group involving Spain, Norway, Cyprus and Georgia.

As Clarke prepares to name his squad on Wednesday, we take a look at the burning questions facing the 59-year-old.

Tried and tested or club form?

The usual list of injury withdrawals is this time exacerbated by the club’s loss of form.

With Celtic’s Callum McGregor and Rangers’ Ryan Jack still sidelined, only Southampton’s Stuart Armstrong, Bologna’s Lewis Ferguson, Norwich City’s Kenny McLean and Luton Town’s Allan Campbell earn regular club starts among central midfielders. included in recent teams.

John McGinn has made his last three appearances for Aston Villa from the bench, Scott McTominay his last eight for Manchester United, David Turnbull made his first Celtic start since September on Saturday, while Billy Gilmour played a grand total of 13 minutes in four matches since joining Brighton.

Lewis Ferguson and John McGinn
Lewis Ferguson and John McGinn have had contrasting club form of late

By contrast, Ferguson has started Bologna’s last five games – and scored twice – helping them to four straight wins. The 23-year-old is set to push for a second Scotland start.

There will be endless cries for Vancouver Whitecaps Player of the Year Ryan Gauld to get a first call-up, but the 26-year-old considers himself so out of place in Major League Soccer that he’s not ruling out a change to represent Canada.

A man of loyalty and a believer in continuity, Clarke is more likely to stay with the usual midfield suspects in his initial squad before balancing club form with experience when it comes to selection day.

Time to experiment?

International friendlies have traditionally been seen as a time for managers to experiment, or simply a waste of time for some, but that all changed after the competitive Nations League was introduced into a busy football schedule.

The game against Turkey is Clarke’s only opportunity to strengthen his squad ahead of the Group A opener against Cyprus and Spain in March.

Nonetheless, with Brentford’s Aaron Hickey being sidelined, an opportunity could have opened up for Calvin Ramsay to receive his first call-up after Liverpool’s, albeit brief, debut against Napoli in the Champions League.

Ryan Porteous
Ryan Porteous helped Scotland to a 0-0 draw with Ukraine in September

However, with Nathan Patterson returning from injury to make two appearances as a substitute for Everton, and Anthony Ralston continuing to impress for Celtic, a potential vacancy at right-back could have been closed.

It is almost certain that captain Andy Robertson, back in form with Liverpool, will return to left-back. And although Kieran Tierney now finds himself behind Oleksandr Zinchenko in the Arsenal pecking order, this dual presence will limit Josh Doig’s chances of making his international debut despite the 20-year-old’s promising debut at Hellas Verona.

Ryan Porteous made an impressive debut in the 0-0 draw with Ukraine in September but, like Cremonese’s Jack Hendry, Leeds United’s Liam Cooper and Nottingham Forest’s Scott McKenna, featured in a club central defense that has misdisclosed goals this weekend.

Grant Hanley’s return to form with Norwich will certainly add to the competition.

Withered on the wings

Barrie McKay playing for Hearts against Motherwell
Did Barrie McKay (left) deserve an international recall?

With Sunderland’s Ross Stewart still unable to build on his promising Scotland debut due to injury and Jacob Brown mostly on the bench for Stoke City since returning to fitness, Southampton’s Che Adams and Queens’ Lyndon Dykes Park Rangers will likely compete for a lone striker role again. .

However, with those two short goals at club level, Lawrence Shankland’s six out of five games for Hearts could earn the 27-year-old a recall.

Who backs up on the wing could be more up for grabs, with Ryan Christie an unused substitute in struggling Bournemouth’s last two games and Ryan Fraser now also on the bench for top-flight Newcastle.

Barrie McKay has lost some of his shine since the Hearts winger was called up late in September, so it wouldn’t be surprising to see James Forrest back in the frame after the 31-year-old returned to form with the Celtic.

Has Kelly’s time come?

Liam Kelly
At 26, Liam Kelly is still awaiting his senior debut in Scotland

Goalkeeper was another position where Scotland have seen healthy competition recently, but is now threatening to become a problem again.

Not helped by an injury decimated Hearts defense, Craig Gordon succumbed to some uncharacteristic recent slip-ups. Motherwell’s Liam Kelly is the only recent call-up – the others being Hearts understudy Zander Clark and Rangers duo Jon McLaughlin and Robby McCrorie – to enjoy regular playing time with his club.

Now might be an opportune time to give the in-form Kelly his first selection ahead of a time when Gordon, 39, finally hangs up his gloves.

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