"He's looked international-class from the moment he came in." Steve Clarke praises Lyndon Dykes after winner
Steve Clarke has hailed Lyndon Dykes’ impact for Scotland since handing him his debut last month against Israel.
The manager watched his side stretch their unbeaten run to seven games following yesterday’s 1-0 win against Slovakia, who are 13 places above Scotland in the rankings.
Dykes scored the all-important goal nine minutes after half-time. He was later replaced by Oli McBurnie, who hit the bar with a header. While McBurnie has still to break his international duck, Dykes has scored two goals in four outings since Clarke convinced him to opt for Scotland over Australia, where he was born and grew up.
It is becoming clear this has been one of Clarke’s most astute moves since taking over the national side last year. Clarke believes Dykes has proved his worth from the moment he took the field against Israel just five weeks ago and made such an impression with his hold-up play. He has since added goals to the mix.
The Queen’s Park Rangers striker is now in pole position to lead the line in next month’s all-important play-off final against Serbia. Scotland face an outing against Nations League rivals Czech Republic on Wednesday before their minds can turn to the pivotal clash in Belgrade. Dykes has given Clarke much reason for optimism ahead of such a crucial phase.
“He was an international striker as soon as we picked him and put him on the pitch,” said Clarke. “Lyndon has done well, I don’t think anyone who has watched him play could say anything otherwise. He was part of a very good team performance. He will get the headlines because he scored the goal, that’s what strikers do.”
Clarke was just as thrilled with his defenders after their second successive clean sheet. Aberdeen’s Andrew Considine made an accomplished debut at the age of 33. “I thought my back three were terrific,” he said. “Andy was terrific when you think he only joined us the other day. We had two days of recovery, so we didn't do a lot on the training pitch but he's experienced. He is there on merit and he showed that against Slovakia."
Clake will need to make one change at least when Scotland entertain Czech Republic in a meeting between the first and second-placed sides in Group B2. Skipper Andy Robertson will miss out through suspension after being booked in the second half for kicking the ball away. Clarke also revealed he is calling-up another centre-half for cover.
“Andy will miss it with two yellows,” confirmed Clarke. “I think two yellows in a six-game competition ruling you out a game is a bit harsh. It’s really short (the turnaround), but we will deal with that. We have a good squad of players and Liam Cooper has dropped out with injury, so I will probably call up another centre-back to give us that cover just in case.
“This (win) sets us up nicely for the game against the Czechs,” he added. "They had a good win against Israel but come Wednesday night, I hope we are still top. We aren't thinking about next month (v Serbia). The focus is to get as many points as possible in this section. If we do that, we will go into Serbia in the right frame of mind."
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