HE has already given Kilmarnock the kiss of life. So why shouldn’t Steve Clarke be given the chance to save Scotland’s skin? Not to mention that of SFA chief executive Stewart Regan.

The recriminations over the association’s embarrassing pursuit of Michael O’Neill can wait – whether the chief exec was played or merely hopelessly naïve from the start, it left the national team appearing distinctly leaderless and rudderless at yesterday’s Nations League draw in Geneva, more than three months after the decision was taken to move on from Gordon Strachan – because the priority for everyone right now is finding someone to take this group of Scottish players forward. Having placed all his eggs in one basket, Regan more than anyone else will be aware of the need to produce a rabbit out of the hat.

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It is pretty much back to square one then when it comes to the identity of the next Scotland manager. The likes of David Moyes and Paul Lambert - men who might have found themselves on a short or long list - have found clubs while they dithered, while performance director Malky Mackay has already been dismissed from the running and hardly seems a viable choice. Names like former Croatia and West ham boss Slaven Bilic are being linked with the post. But the man to save Regan’s bacon might just be hiding in plain sight down in a corner of Ayrshire.

It was widely said of O’Neill, not least to me by his old Brechin City chairman Ken Ferguson, that he ‘ticked a lot of boxes’. The same equally applies to Clarke, with the added ingredient – in my book at least – that he just happens to be Scottish.

Ask any of the players, and there has been nothing but wide smiles and widespread disbelief since Clarke walked through the doors of Rugby Park. He has won six and lost just two of his 13 matches in charge, but even such statistics don’t quite do his transformation of the club justice. The period also includes a draw and a win against Rangers and a draw at Celtic Park and it is impossible to be anything but impressed by the canny veteran stewardship he has provided to this team.

Read more: Stewart Regan: I'm to blame for Michael O'Neill affair - but I won't panic over a new Scotland manager

Some would say that 13 matches is a small sample size to make judgements on, but in truth you would be foolish to judge anything on that. Most are looking at the best part of 40 years operating at the sharp end of the sport which has seen most things that football has had to throw at him.

Okay, so Clarke can’t boast O’Neill’s recent pedigree in the international game with Northern Ireland, but he might be Scotland’s equivalent. This is a man who racked up 421 appearances at Chelsea – only John Terry, Frank Lampard and Petr Cech of the recent era have recorded more – and coached under managerial greats like Jose Mourinho and Kenny Dalglish. Recent managerial spells at West Brom, Reading and now Kilmarnock, mean that he knows the top level but is also well acquainted with the Championship and the SPFL, where let’s face it most of Scotland’s players are situated.

Read more: Michael O'Neill: I didn't use the SFA to get more money from Northern Ireland - it was a tempting offer

Would it float his boat? Well, I was down at Rugby Park the day, ahead of the Rugby Park side’s bravura 2-1 win against Rangers, when the 54-year-old was asked about speculation linking him with the Ibrox side. “My quote is: ‘It’s not my intention to leave Kilmarnock for any other Scottish club’,” he replied. “That’s it. I don’t think I need to elaborate on that. It’s quite clear.” But if the SFA are doing their job right – by no means a given on the events of the last few months – Clarke should be asked, either privately or publicly, to elaborate upon that, clarifying if the same applies if it is a national association which comes calling.

He is only months into a three-year contract at a club which he supported as a boy, but if the SFA cannot persuade a proud Scot who won six caps for his country as a right back between 1987 and 1994 to take the hot seat, then the national team job really has lost its cachet.

Heck, with his first competitive match for his country not until September – even that is just the Nations League - why not allow him to stay in the Kilmarnock post too for the remainder of the season at least.