IT is a problem that permeates the generations and one which will take years to solve. If Scottish football is to flourish, we must go back to the future.

The national team needs a savour, a striker, a figure who can be a hero as well as an inspiration. Right now, we simply don't have one.

This is said with full respect for their abilities and the careers that they have had to date. Indeed, it is not their fault.

But nobody will want to grow up to be like Lyndon Dykes or Che Adams. Few will want the names of Jacob Brown or Ross Stewart on the back of their shirts.

All are able and capable and will hopefully go on to score their fair share of goals and help Steve Clarke's side reach the European Championships in the coming months.

Their selection arguably sums up the state of Scotland's striking options, however. They are decent, but they will never become greats.

It is an issue the national side have had for quite some time and one which shows no sign of being rectified any time soon as Scotland seem destined to have to do without a goal scoring hero.

James McFadden was the last talisman that the Tartan Army could cherish. Since then, how many have made that position their own and looked like being a forward that Scotland could rely on?

Kenny Miller, the scorer of 18 goals for his country, comes close to that status, while Leigh Griffiths deserves a mention in the mix. But there are few others who come to mind and it has been the likes of Robert Snodgrass or John McGinn who have come to the fore and stepped up in the final third.

It is easy for supporters to get misty-eyed about teams or players from yesteryear and it would be wrong to compare strikers of recent times and today to legends like Kenny Dalglish or Denis Law. Few, after all, will ever be at that level for club or for country.

But Scotland just does not produce number nines, those with a sense for goal scoring, right now and the national side will continue to toil at the highest level and most crucial moments until someone comes along and grabs that jersey and fills those boots.

Where is the next Ally McCoist or Maurice Johnston coming from? Who can become a figurehead for a generation of kids and will score the goals that will be recreated in gardens and playgrounds?

The display against Ukraine last Wednesday evening was as dispiriting as it was disappointing and it again highlighted the lack of nous, of creativity and ultimately of quality that Scotland have in front of goal.

Clarke is doing fine with what he has got but lumping balls to Dykes and Adams was a rudimentary road to failure and the introduction of Ryan Christie an acknowledgement that the plan wasn't working and the World Cup dream was fading.

On Monday, former Hampden boss Alex McLeish addressed the failings against Ukraine and offered insight into the mentality of the squad and what was needed in a psychological sense as attentions turned to the Nations League fixture with Armenia.

In amongst a wide-ranging chat on results, mind matters and domestic issues as he spoke about Rangers' transfer strategy this summer, the 64-year-old touched on what has been and what still is one of the main areas of concern for national managers.

“It’s been a problem for a while," McLeish said. "We’ve really struggled with strikers.

"I experimented with a couple as well and it didn’t quite work out. I went for Che Adams and couldn’t get him.

"So when Steve got I him I thought ‘great’. Che has definitely made a difference as has Lyndon Dykes but if Scotland can get to an even higher level that’s what we really want.”

The likes of Adams and Dykes are fine fits for where Scotland are at present. Are they, though, the men to fire the nation back to the heights that every fan across the country dreams of?

There is a sense that it has become unfashionable to be a penalty box poacher these days and up-and-coming talents are perhaps more likely to be inspired classy midfielders or eye-catching playmakers.

Goal scoring is an art. The instinct is natural, but the skills can be coached and honed as players progress through the ranks.

“It’s a problem I sadly don’t know the formula for," McLeish said. "It would have been great to have another Coisty or Mo Johnston, one of these great goalscoring legends of the past who score regularly.

"But we’ve had others chipping in and good strikers create chances for others too.

"We’ve had a great return from John McGinn so if he and others can keep adding to the scoresheet then all the better. It’s not all about the strikers.”

The squad that Clarke has at his disposal is more well-rounded and better equipped than many that have been assembled since Scotland's last World Cup appearance but the standard of player being produced here is still not high enough on the whole.

There are individuals - such as Andrew Robertson, Kieran Tierney and McGinn - who are excellent operators and will continue to be mainstays for Scotland for some time to come, while Billy Gilmour could go on to have a career that surpasses them all if he can continue to improve and progress as expected.

Robertson falls into the world class category. The others are established Premier League stars who have set the bar for others to aim for and they will provide the core of the group that will have another crack at the World Cup once they have hopefully reached a second successive European Championships.

If Scotland are to get there, they need a forward to rise to the challenges and to the occasions. But the longer term and the bigger picture are more significant and the deeds of strikers of the past must inspire those of the future.

Goals, after all, win games. If Scotland are to be a success once again, a new Hampden hero but emerge sooner rather than later.