Scotland face San Marino on Sunday in a game that will fail to inspire much of the nation.
The Tartan Army watched on last night as Steve Clarke’s men lost 4-0 to Russia out in Moscow.
Hopes of qualification for Euro 2020 from their group was already gone for Scotland, but the result and performance was another in a long line of them.
And now the visit of European minnows San Marino to Hampden is next – a game Scotland should comfortably win despite their poor form.
With a few hammerings under Clarke, a poor group performance overall and the mood of the nation firmly against the Scotland team, here we look at why there could be some positives to be taken from the San Marino game:
1 – Shankland StartsEmbed from Getty Images
Lawrence Shankland climbed off the bench to make his Scotland debut last night and actually looked like he’s good enough to cope at this level. Sunday should see Clarke start the Dundee United striker. San Marino are probably worse than many teams in the Scottish Championship and he should get opportunities to score. Given the strong reaction to his call-up and some criticism last night, a goal or two for Shankland would go some way to shutting some people up. It will also help his development.
2 – Debut For GallagherEmbed from Getty Images
Can centre back get much worse than Charlie Mulgrew and Mikey Devlin? The former has had plenty of chances with Scotland and now should be the time Clarke hands an opportunity to others. The latter showed last night he’s probably a bit away from being good at this level. So, why not try out in-form Motherwell man Declan Gallagher? A strong performance could see him stake a claim for a regular place in coming games.
3 – Forrest ReturnEmbed from Getty Images
He may have been out of form a little in recent games for Celtic, but James Forrest should be in that Scotland team any time he’s fit. He’s been the star performer with the Scottish champions over recent seasons and has translated that into performances for the national team often too. To have him not even get off the bench last night is one of Clarke’s more bizarre decisions. He needs restored to the team and straight away!
4 – Keep Playing FleckEmbed from Getty Images
One positive to come out of the Russia game was the performance of Fleck. He looked good on the ball and defensively sound – perfect for what Scotland need in a centre midfielder. It would be a step backwards if he was to find himself on the bench Sunday.
5 – GoalsEmbed from Getty Images
Scotland have scored just one goal in their last four games and have taken some batterings too. Clarke badly needs to improve the confidence among his team and plenty of goals against San Marino would help that. Of course, it won’t give his players the belief they need to qualify for a major tournament, but it should be seen as the first step on the road to eventually doing that.