HE may, having only made his Scotland debut back in September after pledging his allegiance to the land of his parents’ birth, be a relative newcomer to international football.

But nobody has needed to tell Lyndon Dykes what to expect from Croatia in a Euro 2020 match at Hampden tomorrow evening which Steve Clarke’s team need to win in order to secure a place in the last 16.

Dykes grew up playing against Croatian teams in his native Australia, where there is a large ex-pat community from the central European state, and is well aware what formidable opponents their national side will be because of those bruising experiences.

“Back home I know quite a few people who are Croatian,” he said as he looked ahead to Scotland’s final Group D game at their base in the north-east of England yesterday. “They are always big tough guys, quite solid. They will be top class, a great team. It will be a good battle.

“Gold Coast Knights are a Croatian team. I have a lot of friends there, including the president. They are a proud group, very tough and determined to win. And they love football.

“I played against them a lot when I was at Merrimac and Surfers Paradise. They were always good teams to watch because they had such a good support.”

The 6ft 2in striker, though, will be undaunted by the prospect of squaring up to the Russia 2018 finalists and is sure to once again respond to any physical treatment which he receives in kind.

Dykes, whose background in rugby league in Australia is obvious to anyone who watches him, gave England centre backs Tyrone Mings and John Stones a torrid evening at Wembley on Friday night and helped Scotland to record a richly-deserved 0-0 draw.

So facing Dejan Lovren and Domagoj Vida, the Zenit Saint Petersburg and Besiktas defenders who are set to start in the middle of the Croatia backline, will hold no fears for him. 

“We have to go in with a lot of confidence,” he said. “I’m sure if we turn up again we can get a good result. I am not intimidated at all. Whoever I come up against I will be putting in my best.

“I grew up playing rugby, I get stuck in there. I do quite enjoy it. I played full back in rugby league. I used to get stuck in there against all the big boys just try and smash them. I enjoyed it the other night. The battle with Mings was a good one in the air. It was a good fight. I liked it.

“Obviously I like playing with my feet as well, getting the ball and showing a bit of what else I can do. But I can try and mix it up when I have to. Whatever happens happens, whoever it is I am going in and trying to get the better of them.”

Dykes may have won the majority of his aerial challenges in the Group D encounter with England – but he and his team mates once again failed to net and Scotland will need to score in order to get the win they require to go through.

The Queens Park Rangers man, who has been on target twice in his 14 international appearances, against the Czech Republic and Slovakia last year, is adamant that netting will not be a problem.

“I’m always confident,” he said. “We’ve got goals in this team, 100 per cent. We’ve just been unlucky in the last couple of games. Keepers are making good saves, the ball just hasn’t fallen where sometimes it would fall. 

“The manager’s not worrying about it, none of us are worrying about it. The goals will come. Obviously we need to score against Croatia. But I’m sure the ball will hit the back of the net. 

“You see the save Jordan Pickford made against Stephen O’Donnell the other night. Stephen couldn’t really do much else to score, but the keeper made a great save. Unfortunately, even when he saved it, the ball just went over Che Adams’ head. On another day he tips it straight to Che and he taps it in. 

“The margins have been so fine in the first couple of games. If the keeper is making a great save, that doesn’t mean we’ve missed a chance. But we’ve got goals in this squad. They’ll go in. We’re all confident.”

The desire that Dykes and his team mates have to do well has been obvious during their lusty renditions of Flower of Scotland before kick-off in both the Czech and England games.

A pre-tournament pep talk from captain Andy Robertson has ensured that every player has sung every word of the national anthem. 

“We are at the Euros and haven’t been here for so long,” said Dykes. “We are all proud that we are here, especially with the crowd there as well. It is just a proud moment. The last two games showed that because we were all belting it out beforehand.

“Robbo mentioned it a couple of times – make sure we go and show everyone what it means to us. We went out there and we did.

“I have always known it. I wouldn’t say the best, but I did know it. My whole family is Scottish. My sister and I are the only ones born in Australia. I did know it from watching games. It was a proud moment for me as well, to be singing it.

“Especially in the game the other day at Hampden. It was the first time there had been crowds there and it was really special to me. It was really good having the crowd there and singing it with everyone.

“Even warming up with everyone there was a different feeling for me. It was a shame we didn’t get a result, but we can fix that in our next game.” 

Dykes has also got extra motivation to triumph. His Serbian friends Down Under have been in touch with him in the last few days urging him to do the business. They have an historic enmity with their neighbours Croatia.  “They have just been on making sure we win,” he said. “We will see what happens there.”