Steve Clarke has outlined his reasons for dropping Lawrence Shankland after leaving the Hearts striker out of the Scotland squad for the forthcoming double header against Spain and France.

Shankland, who has netted five times for the Tynecastle club this season, has been replaced by Jacob Brown of Premier League newcomers Luton Town for the games in Seville and Lille.

The 28-year-old, who has made five appearances for his country and scored on one occasion, was called up for the matches against Cyprus and England last month.

However, he did not get involved in either the Euro 2024 qualifier in Larnaca or the 150th Anniversary Heritage Match at Hampden and Clarke has opted to select Brown ahead of him.

Scotland can qualify for the Euros in Germany next summer if they can draw with Spain, who Shankland helped them beat 2-0 in Glasgow back in March, a week today.

“I’ve always tried to keep the core,” said Clarke. “The only one who has really dropped out is Lawrence. I decided I wanted to have a look at Jacob, who has started quite well at Luton, playing in the English Premier League, week in, week out. I want to see him back in the camp to see what he can bring us.

“I took Lawrence to Cyprus last time and he didn’t get stripped. He didn’t get on the pitch against England. So I just felt that this time, rather than drag him around Europe again, it was probably better to leave him with his club and let him get on with it there.”

Clarke has once again left Ben Doak out of the Scotland squad despite the Liverpool winger featuring for the Anfield club in the Champions League and Premier League this season.

However, he stressed that he believes there are talented youngsters who can follow in the footsteps of the likes of Billy Gilmour, Aaron Hickey, Nathan Patterson and Ryan Porteous and force their way into his plans in the coming months. 

“There are one or two younger ones who can hopefully continue to improve and get better,” he said. “They are going to be the next ones, but don’t forget we’ve got a lot of young ones in the squad like Hickey, Patterson and Gilmour. Ryan is relatively young for a centre back, so we do have younger ones in that group as well.

“We hope that the under-21 group is improving all the time and I think they will. I quite like the look of the 21s - they’ve got some good young players there. Hopefully they can step up a little bit and start to put pressure on the guys we are picking for more or less every camp.”

Clarke added: “I think this squad has done pretty well and at the moment it is a squad that I would be quite happy to run with, more or less all the way into the Euros. Then beyond that, you have some who will be over the 30 mark, over 32, and maybe have different thoughts about coming away with an international camp.

“So it’s probably a discussion that’s more for after we get, hopefully, to Germany, and we can think after that tournament what we are going to do next.

“I don’t think there will be big changes but there will be some subtle changes. I think there have been a lot of subtle changes when you look at the first squad I picked and the squad I’ve picked now. There have been a lot of changes over the years.”