STEVE Clarke will name his 26 man Scotland squad for the Euro 2020 finals tomorrow and speculation abounds about who he will take and who he will omit.

Could Ryan Gauld, Billy Gilmour, Nathan Patterson or David Turnbull get call-ups? Will Andrew Considine, John Fleck, James Forrest, Declan Gallagher, Leigh Griffiths, Kevin Nisbet, Callum Paterson and Lawrence Shankland make the cut?

The members of the Herald and Times sports team put their heads together and came up with the pool of players we feel give the national team the best chance against the Czech Republic, England and Croatia in Group D – and hopefully in the knockout rounds thereafter.

THE SQUAD

GOALKEEPERS: Craig Gordon (Hearts), David Marshall (Derby County), Jon McLaughlin (Rangers).

CENTRE-BACKS: Liam Cooper (Leeds United), Declan Gallagher (Motherwell), Grant Hanley (Norwich City), Jack Hendry (Celtic), Scott McKenna (Nottingham Forest), Kieran Tierney (Arsenal). 

FULL-BACKS: Stephen O’Donnell (Motherwell), Liam Palmer (Sheffield Wednesday), Andrew Robertson (Liverpool), Greg Taylor (Celtic).

MIDFIELDERS: Stuart Armstrong (Southampton), Ryan Christie (Celtic), James Forrest (Celtic), Billy Gilmour (Chelsea), John McGinn (Aston Villa), Callum McGregor (Celtic), Scott McTominay (Manchester United), David Turnbull (Celtic).

FORWARDS: Che Adams (Southampton), Lyndon Dykes (Queens Park Rangers), Ryan Fraser (Newcastle United), Leigh Griffiths (Celtic), Kevin Nisbet (Hibernian). 

THE REASONS

GOALKEEPERS

No debate required.

CENTRE-BACKS

HeraldScotland:

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With Steve Clarke expected to stick to his trusted 3-5-2 formation the Scotland manager will likely take a large portion of central defenders for the European Championships. 

Kieran Tierney is a certainty to be picked if fully fit, but the other places are very much still up for grabs. 

Liam Cooper missed the last international break when Scotland began their World Cup qualification quest, but the Leeds captain has enjoyed one of his best campaigns to date. 

An injury setback has meant the 29-year-old has been out of the picture at Elland Road in recent times, but he has always impressed when given the nod by Clarke and that is why we reckon he should be included for the Euros. 

Grant Hanley is another who has performed to a high level for his club this season as he helped Norwich gain promotion back into the Premier League.  

Injuries meant he was only given his first call-up since 2018 by Clarke during the last round of international fixtures, but he has proved to be a useful addition to the Scots backline. He is another who makes the cut in our selection. 

Declan Gallagher didn’t feature for Motherwell over the final two weeks of the Scottish Premiership season, but expect him to also be named in the 26-man Scotland squad. 

The 30-year-old played a vital role in getting the Scots to the Championships and he will be full of confidence after sealing a move to Aberdeen. 

We also expect Jack Hendry to keep his place at the centre of defence after starting against Austria and Israel in March.

Our final pick at centre back goes to Scott McKenna who enjoyed an impressive campaign for Nottingham Forrest. 

AIDAN SMITH

FULL-BACKS

HeraldScotland:

READ MORE: Why Steve Clarke should hand teenage Rangers right back Nathan Patterson a Scotland call-up for Euro 2020

It seems reasonable to assume that there are four spots going in the squad in the wing-back areas – one first pick and one understudy on either flank – but in truth, Clarke doesn’t have all that much room for manoeuvre here. 

As captain, Robertson is a guaranteed starter on the left, but the skipper will be hoping to produce a little more for his country.

It’s unreasonable to expect the same kind of performances he regularly puts in for Liverpool – after all, he’s playing a completely different role – but there remains a sense that the Tartan Army have yet to see Robertson at his creative best when he dons a dark-blue jersey. 

With Tierney seemingly settled into the back three, Clarke will require back-up should Robertson pick up an injury or a ban. Celtic’s Greg Taylor is the obvious candidate: the 22-year-old previously shone under the Scotland boss’ guidance at Rugby Park and has shown himself to be a capable deputy. What Taylor lacks in attacking flair he makes up for in defensive nous. 

On the other flank, Motherwell’s Stephen O’Donnell has earned his starting berth after growing into his role on the international stage over the last couple of years. We’ve seen greater attacking intent from the wing-back in recent games, albeit there are occasional question marks over his positioning at the back. 

The final spot seems likely to go to Palmer, although Nathan Patterson is surely in contention too. The former has just been relegated to England’s third tier with Sheffield Wednesday and has never looked particularly comfortable in the international set-up, while the latter’s ban for breaching Covid restrictions means he is short of competitive minutes in recent weeks. Clarke is no risk-taker, though, and Patterson’s inclusion feels like a gamble the former Killie boss would be unwilling to take. 

JAMES CAIRNEY

MIDFIELDERS

HeraldScotland:

READ MORE: Callum McGregor gives Scotland verdict on Celtic teammate David Turnbull as Steve Clarke prepares to make squad call

Many of the midfield selections are, as the Americans say, no brainers. Stuart Armstrong, Ryan Christie, John McGinn, Callum McGregor and Scott McTominay are all proven international performers who contributed massively during the successful Euro 2020 qualifying campaign. Each of them will be looking to start.

Elsewhere, James Forrest has overcome his long-term injury just in time to prove he is sharp enough to earn his place.

Who joins them in the squad now that both Ryan Jack and his old Aberdeen team mate Kenny McLean have sadly been ruled out by injury is less clear.  But the absence of Jack and McLean means it is more likely that McTominay will be deployed in his favoured deep-lying midfield berth.  

Sheffield United man John Fleck is vastly experienced, has been in squads regularly and has won five caps for his country. But our selection committee feels Clarke would benefit from having some youth and have plumped for Billy Gilmour and David Turnbull.

Gilmour has performed maturely in his games for Chelsea this year and Turnbull, who was named PFA Scotland Young Player of the Year on Sunday, has been exceptional for Celtic despite their troubles. Both have a great deal to contribute to their country’s cause, neither would simply make up numbers.

MATTHEW LINDSAY

FORWARDS

HeraldScotland:

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There is no question that Che Adams and Lyndon Dykes will be the preferred pair that Steve Clarke will perm his strike-force from, with the only question being whether or not he will partner them up top or ask one to lead the line in any given game.

Ryan Fraser is also a shoo-in for the squad having impressed in the World Cup qualifiers in March.

The big question mark surrounds the final attacking slot, which would likely have been filled by Oli McBurnie had he not suffered the stress fracture to his foot last month that ended his season.

Kevin Nisbet, Lawrence Shankland, Callum Paterson and Leigh Griffiths will all be hopeful of getting the nod, with Nisbet showing the best form of any of those strikers recently. Behind the scenes too, the Scotland players were hugely impressed by the Hibs striker when he was drafted into the last camp. He should make it in.

For me though, the possible match scenarios Scotland may face have to be considered, and for all his faults and fitness struggles, Griffiths would be the wildcard from that pack who you might be able to throw on and get a goal from nothing in your hour of need.

GRAEME McGARRY