Lawrence Shankland: Scotland call-up for Dundee United striker
Dundee United’s Lawrence Shankland has been rewarded for his sparkling start to the season with a call-up for Scotland’s Euro 2020 qualifiers against Russia and San Marino.
Striker Shankland, 24, has scored 13 times in seven Scottish Championship games since signing from Ayr United.
He becomes the first second-tier player to be called up since John McGinn – then at Hibernian – in 2017.
Sheffield United’s John Fleck has also been named in Steve Clarke’s squad.
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The 28-year-old midfielder receives a third senior international call-up after some impressive performances for the Premier League newcomers.
He was set to feature against Cyprus and Belgium in June but was unavailable because he was getting married.
Attacker Oliver Burke also returns to the squad, having made one start and two substitute appearances in La Liga on loan to Alaves from West Bromwich Albion.
However, fellow West Brom winger Matt Phillips and Hearts forward Steven Naismith are missing through injury problems, while midfielder Stuart Armstrong also drops out from the squad selected for September’s games with Russia and Belgium because of a lack of game time with Southampton.
Furthermore, there is no recall for Arsenal defender Kieran Tierney, who missed Monday’s draw with Manchester United.
The 22-year-old has played just once since moving from Celtic in a £25m deal in August after having undergone a double-hernia operation in May.
“I was close to selecting Kieran,” Clarke said. “Arsenal have indicated to us they would prefer us not to select him at this time because he has only played 70 minutes.”
‘Shankland’s a natural finisher’
Clarke says Shankland deserves his chance as “he’s a goalscorer, he’s in form”.
“I know Lawrence quite well from my time here in Scotland having watched him a few times and it’s not an area that we are over-burdened with top strikers,” he said.
“The best way to look at him and gauge what level he is at is to bring him into the squad. It’s an opportunity to have him in the group, see how he works in the squad and hopefully he can score a few goals for us.
“He scores goals with his head, left foot, right foot. He’s a natural finisher and that’s something maybe we haven’t had recently, so hopefully this will address that.”
Scotland visit Russia on 10 October and host San Marino three days later.
Clarke’s side are fifth in Group I after two wins and four defeats in their opening six games, with Russia on 15 points in second place, three behind Belgium.
However, even though their chances of qualification through the group have faded, they can still make the finals via next year’s play-offs after winning their Nations League group last year.
Goalkeepers: Craig MacGillivray (Portsmouth), David Marshall (Wigan Athletic), Jon McLaughlin (Sunderland).
Defenders: Liam Cooper (Leeds United), Michael Devlin (Aberdeen), Grant Hanley (Norwich City), Charlie Mulgrew (Wigan Athletic), Stephen O’Donnell (Kilmarnock), Liam Palmer (Sheffield Wednesday), Andrew Robertson (Liverpool), Greg Taylor (Celtic).
Midfielders: Ryan Christie (Celtic), John Fleck (Sheffield United), Ryan Jack (Rangers), John McGinn (Aston Villa), Callum McGregor (Celtic), Kenny McLean (Norwich City), Scott McTominay (Manchester United), Robert Snodgrass (West Ham United).
Forwards: Oliver Burke (Alaves), James Forrest (Celtic), Ryan Fraser (Bournemouth), Oliver McBurnie (Sheffield United), Johnny Russell (Sporting Kansas City), Lawrence Shankland (Dundee United).