THERE is more than one reason for Scotland’s failure to reach the World Cup finals in Qatar but the lack of even one dependable game-changing goalscorer would be close to the top of the list.

Aston Villa midfielder John McGinn, who has 13 goals from his 48 appearances, carries most of the burden when it comes to finding the net for the national team: the four strikers selected for the recent games against Ukraine, Armenia and the Republic of Ireland have 11 international goals between them from 49 outings.

Of the last ten goals scored by Steve Clarke’s side, only one – Che Adams’ strike in the 4-1 win over Armenia – was claimed by a forward.

Kenny Miller, the hard-working former Rangers, Celtic, Wolves, Derby County, Bursaspor, Cardiff City and Vancouver Whitecaps man, is Scotland’s highest scorer this century, with 18 goals from 69 games.

In the same period Wayne Rooney scored 53 times for England, trailed by Harry Kane (50), Michael Owen (35), Frank Lampard (29), Steven  Gerrard (21), Jermain Defoe (20) and Raheem Sterling (19).

David Healy notched 36 goals for Northern Ireland while Kyle Lafferty is currently on 20. Gareth Bale and Aaron Ramsey have 38 and 20 respectively while Robbie Keane amassed 61 goals for the Republic of Ireland.

There are few signs of green shoots of recovery elsewhere. Scotland scored only six goals in eight qualifying ties (one victory) in their failed attempt to progress to next year’s European under-21 Championships. Four of them came against group patsies Kazakhstan and none was scored by a recognised striker.

Indeed, 42 of the 52 countries in the competition scored more goals than Scot Gemmill’s team, who finished joint 43rd along with the Faroe Islands while Malta reached double figures.

Craig Brown was the manager when Scotland qualified for France ’98. By the time of the next finals the Tartan Army will have spent 28 years in exile from the greatest tournament of them all and Brown believes that producing a predator is essential.

“We haven’t really had a goalscorer you could hang your hat on since Ally McCoist and Mo Johnston,” he said. “They were the best pair during my time with the national teams and they came through 40 years ago.

“In fact, one of my great regrets is that I left Ally out of the squad which went to our last World Cup. He was 35 and had been having problems with a thigh injury so instead I took Scott Booth, who’d scored in three consecutive internationals that year.

“Looking back, even a half-fit McCoist would have done more for us over there and we could certainly do with someone like him now.

“Goals change games. Norway are doing well because Erling Haaland has scored 20 goals in 21 matches for them, which is a phenomenal record.

“We have a good manager in Steve Clarke and some impressive players as well. We’re a good team but if we had a Haaland we’d be a very good team. Then again, if we had a peak form Charlie  Nicholas at the moment we’d be a very good team.

“I was lucky that I had Ally and Mo. I had a superior record as Scotland manager to the likes of Gordon Strachan or Alex McLeish but does that mean I was a better boss? I’d say it was because I had better players to work with.”

Brown also suggested a left-field solution to this onging dilemma.

“I was speaking recently with former First Minister Henry McLeish, who wrote a report about the state of our game about a decade ago,” he said.

“The most successful team Scotland has ever seen is Celtic’s Lisbon Lions and I mentioned to Henry that ten of those eleven players played Junior football – Jimmy Johnstone with Blantyre Celtic, Bobby Murdoch at Cambuslang Rangers and Stevie Chalmers, who scored the winner in the European Cup final, turned out for Ashfield Juniors until he was 23.

“At that time there were no Fancy Dan ideas about academies or centres of excellence. Youngsters went to the Juniors and they toughened up, learning to play men’s football and how to avoid dangerous challenges.

“It worked then so why do we ignore the Junior game now?”