Scotland v Moldova: Right time for Steve Clarke to experiment against group minnows

Scotland boss Steve Clarke was forced to put some square pegs in round holes in Wednesday night’s 2-0 defeat to Denmark in Copenhagen.

Scotland boss Steve Clarke deployed skipper Andy Robertson at right wing back during Wednesday's 2-0 defeat do Denmark in Copenhagen
Scotland boss Steve Clarke deployed skipper Andy Robertson at right wing back during Wednesday's 2-0 defeat do Denmark in Copenhagen

With no recognised right back available to face the Danes, captain Andy Robertson had to slot in on the right side of the Scots’ back five which undoubtedly made it easier for the hosts to neutralise his threat going forward.

Kenny McLean was tasked with filling in for John McGinn but couldn’t bring the same levels of combativeness and running as the Aston Villa man while Ryan Fraser was completely isolated for all of the first half with no target man to play off of in a front two.

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McGinn, along with Rangers’ right back Nathan Paterson, are expected to return for selection for Saturday’s match against group minnows Moldova at Hampden which will give Clarke much less of a selection headache.

David Turnbull has been in good form for Celtic, could we see him in the starting line up at Hampden against Moldova?

Paterson, in particular, will allow Robertson to return to his natural left wing-back role where he could reform his partnership with Arsenal’s Kieran Tierney at left centre back which has proved a useful attacking tool for the Scots under the former Killie gaffer.

On top of that, the formidable midfield three of McGinn, Billy Gilmour and Callum McGregor which dominated the England team at Wembley during the Euros, will almost certainly be too much for the 175th ranked Moldovans to handle.

However, does Clarke need to put out his strongest available starting XI against the group minnows? Especially with a trip to Austria on Tuesday night.

At this stage it’s looking clear that Denmark will win the group, quite possibly going unbeaten, meaning the rest of the teams are fighting it out for second and the Austrians will be expected to secure that spot should they beat the Scots on Tuesday.

All of Scotland’s remaining games (not against Denmark) are must win at this stage but even an experimental Scotland team should have more than enough about them to comfortably beat Moldova.

Both Lyndon Dykes and Grant Hanley would miss the match with Austria should they pick up a yellow card in Saturday’s fixture and it might be a prudent move to keep them sat on the bench.

Jack Hendry could quite easily come in for Hanley and form a back three with Tierney and any one of Cooper, McKenna or Gallagher but who does Clarke go with up top after the Fraser/Adams partnership proved so ineffective against Denmark?

The answer to that question could result in Celtic’s David Turnbull coming in for just his second senior cap.

The 22-year old midfielder has been in good form for Celtic this season, scoring a hat-trick in a 6-0 demolition of St Mirren last month.

He had a solid Scotland debut in the 2-2 friendly draw with The Netherlands prior to the Euros and the match with Moldova could give him the chance to show what he can bring in an attacking sense to the national team.

Clearly the former Motherwell star is no striker but, if the Scots can exploit the wide areas and keep the ball on the deck as we know they are capable of, it could create space for Turnbull to get into the right areas and give the Moldovan defence yet another threat in the middle of the par to think about.