SCOTLAND boss Steve Clarke has been warned that it would be a “gamble” to take Ryan Fraser to the European Championships given the ongoing injury issues that have wrecked the forward’s maiden season at Newcastle United.

Newcastle complete their Premier League programme with a home game against Sheffield United tomorrow night and a trip to Fulham on Sunday afternoon, but having undergone groin surgery last month, Fraser is not expected to feature in either game.

The 27-year-old has managed just nine Premier League starts since joining the Magpies as a free agent following his departure from Bournemouth last summer, with a succession of injury problems keeping him on the sidelines.

His latest groin problem emerged after he returned from international duty with Scotland at the end of March, and casts doubt over his availability for this summer’s European Championships, which will see the Scots compete in a group with England, Croatia and the Czech Republic.

Clarke lost one forward this week when Sheffield United’s Oli McBurnie admitted defeat in his attempts to regain fitness ahead of the Euros, and the Scotland boss will be keen to select Fraser if there is any prospect of the forward being able to make it on to the field.

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Bruce claims that would be a major gamble given Fraser’s lack of involvement for the majority of the season, and is clearly hoping the Scot is not named in the 26-man squad that Clarke will announce before the end of the month.

“It has been a difficult time for Ryan,” said Bruce. “Whether he’s going to be picked in the Scotland squad, I don’t know. I would think that would be a gamble given that he’s missed the last six or seven weeks.

“He’s not really played any real football or even trained in that period. But with the problems Scotland have got, and with being able to pick 26 players, I don’t know. It would certainly be a gamble though.”

In an ideal world, Bruce would like to be able to give Fraser an extended period of rest before bringing him back to Newcastle’s Little Benton training complex for the start of a pre-season schedule he feels will be crucial to his chances of making more of an impact next season.

Last summer’s pre-season was effectively squeezed into a three-week spell, which gave anyone carrying a knock precious little chance to recover before the start of the current campaign.

This summer’s schedule will be much closer to a ‘traditional’ pre-season, and for Fraser in particular, the opportunity to build up his fitness over an extended spell will be crucial.

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“Ryan desperately needs a pre-season to get himself right,” said Bruce. “Pre-season is going to be huge for him, in terms of making sure he’s right for next season.

“It’s going to be key to him because he didn’t have a pre-season the season before, and last year’s was a non-entity for everybody really in terms of trying to have a proper pre-season. He’s got a big summer ahead of him.”