The novelty of Scotland appearing at a major tournament for the first time in almost a quarter of a century has quickly rubbed off after Steve Clarke’s side lost 2-0 to Patrik Schick’s double for the Czech Republic at Hampden – and now it’s time for Clarke to throw caution to the wind at Euro 2020 and pitch in Billy Gilmour and Nathan Patterson against England at Wembley.
After watching his side disappoint against the Czechs, Clarke now needs to win at least one of the two remaining games if he is to go further than any Scotland team has before.
While Gilmour and Patterson are short in terms of experience, there’s no question of just how talented the two Rangers Academy graduates are and they would add a different attacking dimension to the Scotland side.
Patterson showed in his appearances for Steven Gerrard’s Scottish champions that he is from the same attack-minded mould as his skipper at Ibrox and his drive from the right wing-back role Clarke seems to prefer would fit really well with how the Scotland boss wants his side to play.
His goals and assists from Rangers almost always seemed to stem from him bursting beyond the opposition midfield and getting himself into one-on-one situations with the other full-back and using his deceptive strength to out-muscle them.
So much so, when Patterson has been involved with Scot Gemmill’s Scotland under-21 side over the last 12 months, he’s been regularly used as a right winger rather than a defensive player.
Euro 2020 hopes already in the balance
Stephen O’Donnell’s poor performance against the Czechs must raise serious questions over his involvement and, while Clarke brought James Forrest on in his place at Hampden, going with Patterson would be a mark of intent.
With Gilmour, the potential of the Chelsea wonderkid is there for everyone to see.
A Champions League medal already tucked away before he’d even turned 20 is only the beginning for Scotland’s number 23.
His early appearances for Scotland in the pre-tournament friendlies against the Netherlands and Luxembourg already has fans clamouring for Gilmour to be given a start.
Having nothing to lose at Wembley, Clarke should look take the plunge with Gilmour against the Auld Enemy in the Euro 2020 clash.
He’s already experienced the biggest occassions in club football and been part of the matchday preparations at a pre-Covid Old Firm clash so 20,000 fans at Wembley won’t faze him.
Throw in the fact that he has everything needed to be the best Scottish player in years if he continues to progress, Clarke should be throwing his lot in with the Chelsea midfielder.
The Scotland manager’s faith in the players who got Scotland to Euro 2020 is admirable but if he wants to get results he needs to make some drastic changes before Friday’s Wembley clash.