RYAN Christie is Steve Clarke’s idea of an attacking midfielder.

The Celtic man is almost certain to start against Russia on Friday night given his form and the fact he is the best by far in the squad of playing just behind a lone striker.

Oh, and there is also Christie’s incredible levels of fitness. He never seems to get tired despite doing more running than everyone else. It’s a package his international manager admires.

Clarke said: “Ryan is quick, direct, excites you, gets at people and likes to shoot. Celtic found a little position for him before Brendan left when he played a sort of inside left free position getting forward.

“I remember going to Celtic Park and getting spanked 5-0 which wasn’t very nice and, for me, Ryan was the catalyst at that time for Celtic. He did really well and kept that form going before picking up his injury against Aberdeen.

“He’s been terrific. I think if you watch Ryan play it’s not a free role in there because when he hasn’t got the ball he goes chasing after people all the time.

“He’s not a tackler, not a ball-winner but he’s always ratting around people and when he loses the ball he gets after them, he chases around. It’s not so much a free role. Sometimes you have a number 10 who is a luxury player. I think he’s a little bit more than that.

“Ryan goes in, probably not the best of tacklers and sometimes when you’re like that and go into a collision you end up getting hurt yourself. He wants the ball, never hides, even on a bad day he will keep looking to get on the ball and look to make things happen in the final third of the pitch which is great.”

Another who can play the No10 role – but may find himself further forward – is 33-year-old Steven Naismith who is on 49 caps, it would be more if not for injury, and is someone who has unfinished Scotland business.

Clarke revealed: “Steven popped in to see me when I took the job – to apologise for not signing for me twice. When I was manager at West Brom and Kilmarnock I tried to get him.

“He's as good as gold. I know him quite well. He was injured at the time but came in to say how desperate he was to be involved. He told me that as soon as he was fit he wanted to be involved.

“I think he's a terrific player. When Hearts don't have him in the team, they're not quite as good. When you have players who make a difference like that, they're really important to you.