Scotland boss Steve Clarke believes he has the players and tactical flexibility to cope with Kieran Tierney’s absence for the remaining Euro 2024 qualifiers.
A hamstring tear has ruled the defender out of the upcoming qualifier against Spain and friendly against France, as well as the November group games against Georgia and Norway.
Scotland just need a point, or for Norway to drop points, to guarantee their place at next year’s finals in Germany but will have to deal with the absence of Tierney, who has been an important player under Clarke.
The manager has included Celtic left-back Greg Taylor and Leeds centre-back Liam Cooper in his squad for and believes they can help him cover the loss.
“First and foremost it’s a shame for Kieran,” Clarke said. “He got a really good move on loan to Sociedad, started really well and obviously picked up what looks like quite a significant injury.
“We will miss him but I know Kieran, he will work as hard as he can to get back as quickly as possible, and we will be there to support him, and hopefully we are waiting on the other side for him as well with some good news.
“The squad is strong, I believe I have good options. It’s nice to be able to call on people like Greg Taylor, who has started the season well with Celtic. Liam Cooper has come back to the squad as well, which gives me another option.”
Scotland have enjoyed success without Tierney in the past, shifting to a back four, but the manager hinted that he will stick with his favoured three-man defensive shape for the Spain game at least.
“What you have to weigh up is whether you have time on the training pitch to change the team, to change the system,” said Clarke, whose team also face France in a friendly in Lille on October 17.
“This one is a little bit more difficult because it’s a Thursday match, so the first match is difficult in terms of changing the system.
“That’s not to say we won’t do it because we have done it before. If I feel it’s the right way to go, then we can change the system.
“We still have games this week and at the weekend. You have to wait and see which squad actually turns up, hopefully no more injuries. Once I’ve got everybody in camp, we will make a decision on how we are going to go.
“Then we will have two quite short training sessions to work on the tactical side of it, and we will make sure we get that right.
“I think we could easily slot back into it because most of the players play with a back four with their club, so it’s not as if you are asking them to do something they can’t do.
“They proved in that September week of the Nations League that they could adapt very quickly to a different system.
“It’s a system that we quite often change to within games, if we have to get after the game and maybe chase it a little bit. So it’s a system we can use.”
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