The Aston Villa, Man Utd, and Liverpool stars who can still inspire Scotland despite injury crisis

Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now
Scotland continue to struggle immensely with injury issues heading into Euro 2024

On September 9th 1513, the King of Scotland, James IV, pitted his army against the English at Flodden Field near the sleepy parish of Branxton in Northumberland. The Scots, heavy with the menace of artillery and trained in the new tactics of the Swiss Doctrine, were confident of bloodying the nose of southern forces who were widely perceived to be cumbersome and antiquated in their approach. Instead, the English fought ferociously and seemingly without exhaustion, overpowering James’ military in a bloody battle during which the Scottish would lose 10,000 men. It remains the largest single loss of bodies in the history of Scotland - until Steve Clarke’s Euro 2024 preparation camp.

The Tartan Army of today, kitted out with novelty ginger wigs and German phrasebooks rather than claymores and breastplates, have been thoroughly decimated in recent weeks. At the time of writing, their injury list reads like the extras credits from Ben Hur. Among the wounded are Bologna metronome Lewis Ferguson, first choice right-back Aaron Hickey, second choice right-back Nathan Patterson, prominent goal threat Lyndon Dykes, and Ben Doak - a young attacker who finally answers the question, ‘What would Phil Foden play like if he had been raised solely on a diet of Irn Bru and square sausages?’ At this rate, it is not unthinkable that the likes of Jimmy Krankie and Marti Pellow could receive late call-ups to bolster Clarke’s ranks.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

This time next week, a beleaguered Scotland will participate in a Euro 2024 opener against home nation Germany. Most casual observers give them little to no chance of pulling off an upset. If Clarke forgets to pack his VHS copy of Braveheart to stick on in the dressing room pre-match, then their problems will be compounded further. You can forget ‘curtain-raiser’, it’ll just be ‘curtains’.

Or so you might presume. Twenty-threes places separate the two countries in the FIFA World Rankings, and Germany look to be in a very decent place having recently beaten the likes of France and the Netherlands, while Scotland underwhelmed significantly in their 2-0 win over minnows Gibraltar on Monday afternoon.

But it doesn’t all have to be doom and gloom. For one thing, you try telling any given Scotland supporter, travelling or otherwise, that they don’t have a chance against the hosts, or in their subsequent group stage clashes against Hungary and Switzerland. For another, despite being deprived of a wealth of talent, the Tartan Army still have plenty of match-winning pedigree at their disposal.

Take, for instance, Andy Robertson - a man who has won it all at club level with Liverpool, and who has a habit of raising the performances of those around him. Or John McGinn, perhaps - a ricocheting meatball of a midfield maestro who, according to the word on the street, may or may not be better than Zinedine Zidane. Then there is Scott McTominay, expected to feature in the final warm-up friendly against Finland - a sort of Ivan McDrago; physically imposing, relentless, and more than capable of turning it on when it matters most.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

There are others besides, of course. Both Ryan Christie and Billy Gilmour, say, have enjoyed good seasons in the Premier League. And the point is that while Scotland are perhaps not as strong as they would have liked to have been heading into next Friday’s clash in Munich, they should still have enough about them to ensure that they are by no means pushovers.

Because if there is one thing that Clarke has instilled in this group that separates them from the Scottish teams who failed for so long to qualify for major international tournaments, it is a stubborn spirit. They may be weakened, and things may be far from ideal, but the Tartan Army must find a way of showing that grit over the coming weeks.

Comment Guidelines

National World encourages reader discussion on our stories. User feedback, insights and back-and-forth exchanges add a rich layer of context to reporting. Please review our Community Guidelines before commenting.