WHEN you are the Scotland manager, there is so much that goes into your decisions when you are picking a squad. It’s so difficult.

The debate over whether or not Steve Clarke should take Leigh Griffiths to Euro 2020 has arisen once more this week after Griff’s goal against Aberdeen. With Oli McBurnie injured, there is a space to be fought for in attack.

Kevin Nisbet certainly has a shout, and I know that when he was in the last Scotland squad, the players were impressed by what they saw. That’s a good thing, if you go along and the players are impressed by what you bring to it.

You’ve got a bit of power there with Lyndon Dykes, and Che Adams is someone I’ve known about for a wee while, and he also brings a bit of power to it.

Scotland are going to be very hard to beat, but can we get a goal somewhere? If we can come up with a goal, we’ve got a good chance of getting a result against anybody. Hence why I can see why people immediately are thinking of Griff.

I think most of us would say that if you were chasing a game and looking for a goal, Griffiths would be the man you would want to be throwing on out of all of those strikers.

But as Scotland manager, you have other things to consider. Do you then let down one of the guys who have travelled everywhere with you in the last couple of years? Loyalty is a big thing in football, and you can be repaid in all sorts of ways if you are loyal to people.

The guys I had, I felt I owed them a lot, because they gave me plenty. But then, I’m not daft, and I’d do anything to win a game of football!

It’s too flippant though to say ‘Yes I’d take him’ or ‘No I wouldn’t’, because there’s so much goes into that decision. That’s the dilemma as an international manager. If you picked everyone that was suggested to you, the squad would be 42 players.

Pundits will come out with these statements to make headlines, but what most of them don’t do is put themselves in Steve Clarke’s position. It’s not as simple as a yes or no. Unless you’ve been in the Scotland manager’s shoes, you just don’t know what goes into these calls.

It’s easy to say he scored two cracking goals against England four years ago, so you have to take him. I scored against West Germany, would you have me in there?

Steve will have in his mind exactly how he can see his team playing. He sees in his mind the teams he is going to play against.

It’s alright for me or anyone else to say yes, take him, but I’ve been there in the manager’s shoes and I know it’s never as easy as that.

Steve is now thinking ‘Right, what if I’m in the lead against Croatia? Or trailing to the Czech Republic? Or winning against England?’ All these scenarios are going through your mind, and Steve will be thinking of what players he needs in each scenario. None of us know what is in Steve’s mind when it comes to dealing with these situations.

I also don’t know the beauty of working with Dykes, Adams, or Lawrence Shankland either, because I’ve never worked with them. Steve has, and he might think they would be a safer shout than taking a punt on Griff. But that’s what Steve gets paid for, to make the big decisions like that.

The thing that Griff has that no one else in our squad has in my view, is that he can make a goal from nothing. Most of the time, we have to score goals that are team goals, because we don’t have that individual brilliance of a striker on his own beating two people and scoring.

Even if you are bringing him on as a sub, well, who is the best player we have at free-kicks? It’s him. But do you make that space available in case you get a set-play or you need him for 15 or 20 minutes, or do you fill that space with someone that can guarantee you to play 90 minutes? Because of his lack of games, Griff might not be up to full pelt.

What I would say is that Griff never ever caused me a problem. He was a far better player towards the end of my time as Scotland manager than he had been back at the start.

I remember Mark McGhee and myself speaking about certain things he maybe had to do to become a better player, and he did it. He took information in, I could see that, and he made himself a better player.

So, when he stepped up to take those free-kicks against England, we were dealing with a completely different Leigh Griffiths. He was a threat any time he played in that period.

He started scoring more headed goals because his movement in the box was better, he knew when to move and when not to move when crosses were coming in, so there was a big all-round improvement in his game.

If anybody trains with Griff, they would soon know that he’s not lazy. It’s a bit like Kris Boyd, people looked at him and said he can’t get about, he can’t be training properly, but he was football conscious and trained incredibly hard.

The two of them have trained just as hard, if not harder, than most of the strikers I’ve worked with. People just have this preconceived idea of what Kris Boyd or what Leigh Griffiths must train like.

There’s a whole package to Griff, there’s the football, the lifestyle, the headlines, it’s this and it’s that, and you have to factor that all in. But when it came right down to it, he never gave me one minute of trouble on the training pitch. Not one. And he trained incredibly hard.

People obviously wonder why it is going about that he is unfit, and I really can’t explain that. I don’t know, and I really don’t want to know what is going on in someone’s private life unless I am their manager who is paying them their money.

As Scotland manager, you have to remember that you can’t be asking questions like that, and you can’t be too demanding of players when it comes to their private life, because you don’t pay them. They are coming along and playing for nothing.

So, you would have to ask the people at Celtic about that, but the one thing I do know is that when he trains, he trains incredibly hard.

Do I think he’s Scotland’s best striker in terms of his movement and how much he wants to score goals? Yes, I do. Now whether that relates to making Steve’s team better, well that is a different thing altogether.

Steve will know what he needs up front to make his team more rounded. Do you want to play with one striker or two? There’s all sorts of things to factor in, and it’s not as simple as people make out.

There were times when I left players out of the Scotland squad, and it was simply because they didn’t fit the style of play. There were a lot of decent players who I didn’t pick because it is unfair to bring them along with a pretence that they might be playing, when they aren’t.

So, Steve obviously has a big decision to make when it comes to Griffiths. And I wouldn’t tell him what to do either way, because I know just how difficult that call will be.