UEFA’S decision to allow managers to select 26 instead of 23 man squads for the Euro 2020 finals this summer due to the Covid-19 pandemic has given several players on the fringes of the Scotland squad increased hope they will receive a call-up from Steve Clarke.

But who exactly will benefit from the development? Will the likes of James Forrest, Leigh Griffiths, Greg Taylor, David Turnbull and Nathan Patterson get the nod as a result of the change? Is Declan Gallagher now set to be involved? Could Ryan Gauld and Billy Gilmour even get in?

Having three more spots at his disposal certainly gives Clarke some room to manoeuvre and a few less contenders to disappoint.

There are several players who are guaranteed to go if fit. At the back, goalkeepers David Marshall, Craig Gordon and Jon McLaughlin, left backs Andy Robertson and Kieran Tierney, centre half Grant Hanley and right backs Stephen O’Donnell and Liam Palmer shouldn’t book any holidays in June.

In midfield, Callum McGregor, Scott McTominay, Stuart Armstrong, Kenny McLean, Ryan Christie and John McGinn are shoo-ins. Up front, Che Adams, Lyndon Dykes and Ryan Fraser have no worries. But that leaves nine slots up for grabs?

Centre half will be a headache for Clarke. Who does he choose out Andy Considine of Aberdeen, Liam Cooper of Leeds United, Gallagher of Motherwell, Jack Hendry of Oostende and Scott McKenna of Nottingham Forest? How many of them does he take?

HeraldScotland:

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McTominay has, even though his best position is in central midfield, been deployed in defence in the past and played there in the 4-0 triumph over the Faroes last month.

But few fans would quibble if Clarke took Gallagher, who was immense in the play-off semi-final and final last year, Cooper, Hendry and McKenna. Which leaves another five spaces.

Members of the Tartan Army have been pushing for Griffiths, who was overlooked for the opening Qatar 2022 qualifiers against Austria, Israel and the Faroe Islands last month due to his lack of game time at Celtic, to be recalled.

His injury-time goal against Aberdeen at Pittodrie last week was his first in three months – but popping up at the death and grabbing the equaliser was typical of the predator.

The former Livingston, Dundee, Wolves and Hibernian forward has an uncanny knack, when he is fit and in the mood, to pop up in exactly the right place at exactly the right time and has the composure required to find the back of the net.

He certainly wasn’t overawed by the occasion when he curled in two long-range free-kicks late on against England in that Russia 2018 qualifier at Hampden back in 2017.

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But Nisbet, the Hibernian striker who won his first cap for Scotland last month, has been one of the form strikers in the country. He has netted 17 times in the 2020/21 season and it would be harsh on him if he was overlooked. Naming both strikers leaves three places available.

Forrest, whose hat-trick against Israel in a Nations League game in Glasgow back in 2018 ultimately clinched the play-off place, looked strong and sharp when he made his comeback for Celtic last month despite spending five months out of action.

He has since suffered another knock. But if he can feature between now and the end of the season it would be worth Clarke including the winger. He is vastly-experienced and can add a cutting edge to the national team’s play in the final third of the park. That leaves two available berths. 

Nathan Patterson has his backers. The Rangers right back has impressed at home and abroad since James Tavernier picked up his injury. He is currently serving a four match ban for breaching coronavirus lockdown restrictions. But his youthfulness could add an interesting dynamic to the squad. He wouldn’t let anybody down either if he had to play. 

Neither, too, would Turnbull. The Celtic playmaker has been the Glasgow club’s outstanding performer in the second half of the season. That said, Scotland are well placed in his position and he was left out of the World Cup qualifiers last month despite scoring eight times since being promoted to the first team at Parkhead at the beginning of December.

HeraldScotland:

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Gauld, who has been excellent for Farense in the Portuguese top flight, and Gilmour, who plays for Champions League semi-finalists Chelsea, have their champions. Taylor of Celtic and Fleck of Sheffield United have strong claims as well and would provide cover in crucial areas. But it would be a surprise if they were involved given their lack of previous experience and recent game time.

There are far fewer players who are going to be left disappointed now, however, and more options available to Clarke and that can only be a positive for Scotland as they bid to make it out of Group D and reach the knockout stages of a major competition for the first time in their history.

DEFINITELY

David Marshall
Craig Gordon
Jon McLaughlin
Andy Robertson
Kieran Tierney
Grant Hanley
Stephen O’Donnell
Liam Palmer
Scott McTominay
Callum McGregor
Stuart Armstrong
Kenny McLean
Ryan Christie
John McGinn
Che Adams
Lyndon Dykes
Ryan Fraser

MAYBE

Greg Taylor
Liam Cooper
Scott McKenna
Jack Hendry
Andrew Considine
Declan Gallagher
Nathan Patterson
John Fleck
James Forrest
David Turnbull
Ryan Gauld
Billy Gilmour
Callum Paterson
Leigh Griffiths
Kevin Nisbet
Oliver Burke
Lawrence Shankland

LONG SHOTS

Paul Hanlon
Ryan Porteous
Paul McGinn
Johnny Russell