Scotland without several key players for Denmark qualifier

James Forrest and Greg Taylor withdraw from squad while John McGinn and Nathan Patterson are self-isolating.

Scotland without several key players for Denmark qualifier SNS Group via SNS Group
Forrest, Taylor, McGinn and Patterson all out of Denmark match.

Scotland boss Steve Clarke will be without several key players for this week’s World Cup qualifier against Denmark in Copenhagen.

Aston Villa midfielder John McGinn and Rangers full-back Nathan Patterson are following government guidance for Covid-19 and self-isolating.

They will both be available for Saturday’s match against Moldova at Hampden and the trip to Austria on September 7.

However, the injured Celtic duo of James Forrest and Greg Taylor have withdrawn from the squad for all three of the upcoming qualifiers, the Scottish Football Association confirmed on their official Twitter account.

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They both missed the 1-0 defeat by Rangers at Ibrox on Sunday, as did Patterson.

Midfielders Scott McTominay and Stuart Armstrong were already ruled out of the matches.

Clarke said: “Probably two years into my international career it has probably been the most disruptive camp in terms of call-offs, which is disappointing.

“But I think I have enough in the current group to go to Denmark and hopefully get the result we all want.

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“Medical advice and information tells me that both John and Nathan should join us after the Denmark game, which is good, so I don’t have to delve too deep for replacements.

“I will work with a slightly smaller squad for the Denmark game and hope to welcome the two boys back on Thursday morning.

“Everyone who is in the squad is fit and available.

“Stephen O’Donnell was not involved at the weekend but was available to be involved, he did a training session yesterday and felt good and will be ready for Wednesday night.

“I don’t expect any more issues, that’s not to say there won’t be any more issues. Covid has been with us for a long time now, it seems like forever.

“It is what it is, we deal with it, I am sure other nations are having similar problems. We will deal with whatever it throws at us and we will get a team on the pitch who will be very competitive.”

No players are being brought into the squad to replace those ruled out.

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Aston Villa set-piece coach Austin MacPhee, who has just joined the national team’s backroom staff, will also miss the whole camp after contracting Covid

Steven Naismith, capped 51 times for Scotland, has been called in as coach to help.

Clarke added: “It is a completely different blow for me.

“I was hoping I would have a new coaching team in place, at the very last minute I asked Steven Naismith who I know as a player to step up and become an extra pair of eyes on the training pitch.

“He will be here for this camp.”

Scotland secured five points from their opening three games of the campaign to qualify for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

They opened the group with a 2-2 draw against Austria at Hampden, followed by a 1-1 draw in Israel.

A 4-0 victory over the Faroe Islands in Glasgow came next to leave Clarke’s side second in European qualifying Group F.

Clarke said last week he is looking to the future after signing a contract extension that takes him through to the end of the Euro 2024 campaign.

The former West Brom and Kilmarnock boss took Scotland to the delayed Euro 2020 this summer, the national team’s first major tournament since 1998.

His initial contract was due to expire at the end of the current World Cup cycle but speaking at Hampden Park, after announcing his squad for the matches against Denmark, Moldova and Austria, he looked to build even longer-term on recent qualification success.

He said: “The little taste we all got of the European Championships in the summer has made everybody excited for more so hopefully we can deliver.”