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Willie Miller column: Scotland have the fire power to shoot-down Austria in Vienna, prove it

Lyndon Dykes netted against Moldova.
Lyndon Dykes netted against Moldova.

Scotland have the goal-scorers to deliver a vital result in Austria tonight to boost hopes of World Cup qualification.

The inability to convert so many chances in the 1-0 defeat of Moldova was extremely frustrating – but it should not be a concern.

Had Scotland netted even half of their chances against Moldova they would have racked up a comfortable 3-0 or 4-0 win.

Ahead of tonight’s huge Group F qualifier in Vienna, I don’t think manager Steve Clarke will be assessing his squad and thinking they cannot deliver goals.

Scotland are creating chances and the failure to convert them can be fixed as they have players capable of finding the back of the net.

Scotland’s Lyndon Dykes celebrates making it 1-0 with teammates during the World Cup qualifier against Moldova.

It would be a real concern if the Scots weren’t carving open scoring opportunities.

Manager Clarke must be confident that the scorers in the squad will find their form – ideally against Austria.

Lyndon Dykes delivered the vital winner against Moldova and has started the season well at club level with Queens Park Rangers.

Dykes netted in each of his previous three games in the English Championship before the international break.

Southampton’s Che Adams is also a proven scorer in the English top flight and Hibs’ striker Kevin Nisbet also netted in two consecutive games before the qualifiers.

Clarke can also call upon influential Aston Villa midfielder John McGinn, who has been prolific in front of goal for Scotland in recent seasons.

When you also add Ryan Christie, who recently left Celtic for Bournemouth, into the mix, there are players capable of delivering goals from a number of positions.

Moldova’s Alexandr Belousov (left) battles with Scotland’s Jack Hendry during a World Cup qualifier.

Although they fired blanks for long spells against Moldova, the most important aspect was securing three points against Moldova – in that respect it was job done.

Anything less than a win against Moldova would have been completely unacceptable.

Edging past Moldova sets up a huge clash in Austria on a night where Scotland can take a considerable step forward in the bid to finish runners-up in a group Denmark look destined to top.

Victory in Vienna would move Scotland four points ahead of the Austrians, whilst a draw would still keep them ahead in the table.

Defeat would bring much negativity regarding aspirations of qualifying for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

Kieran Tierney in action for Scotland during a World Cup qualifier match between Scotland and Moldova at Hampden

This could be a successful night on two fronts for Scotland as Israel also play Denmark away from home.

Should runway group leaders Denmark win and the Scots win, it would see us take control of the bid to finish runners-up.

It is not going to be easy, but the Scots have the potential to secure that runners-up position.

Austria will be reeling after a heavy 5-2 loss to Israel at the weekend.

That defeat will bring pressure on the manager and players to put it right against Scotland.

That pressure can have an adverse affect, so Scotland are potentially facing the Austrians at the right time.

What is clear is that Scotland must be more ruthless in front of goal tonight.

Moldova were disciplined, but their standard is not anything that should upset Scotland – and they didn’t.

Some of their build-up play against Moldova was good and defensively the Scots were solid.

However, that failure to convert chances became frustrating and I think the Tartan Army were a little more patient because they had been away from Hamdpen for so long.

On another day, pre pandemic, supporters may have become a bit more agitated towards the end of the match with the goals not coming.

I feel they were just enjoying their day out at the football.

The Tartan Army, and the players, have had a taste of major tournament football with participation in the Euro 2020 finals this summer.

Everyone in the country is hungry for more.Getting a positive result in Austria tonight would deliver a considerable boost to hopes of qualifying for back-to-back tournaments.

Scotland are creating the chances and have the players to convert them.

They just need the two factors to combine in Vienna tonight.

Squad will be tested after fresh injuries

Scotland’s squad depth will be tested to the limit tonight with the loss of another three players due to injury.

National boss Steve Clarke hasn’t had his problems to seek for the World Cup qualifying triple-header.

Key players had already been ruled out due to injury and Covid-19 issues before Ryan Fraser, Nathan Patterson and Kenny McLean were forced to withdraw for tonight’s World Cup qualifier in Vienna.

Patterson and John McGinn missed the 2-0 loss to Denmark due to Covid-19 issues and key players like Scott McTominay, James Forrest and Stuart Armstrong were already ruled out with injury.

Scotland head coach Steve Clarke with Kenny McLean (left) against Moldova.

Losing another three is a major blow, although Clarke did move to bring in Hibs Paul McGinn for defensive cover in Vienna.

The loss of Patterson is a set-back as he impressed in the defeat of Moldova and did enough to very much force himself into the manager’s thought to start against Austria.

The teenager has tremendous potential and that was on view for everyone to see at Hampden.

Patterson is someone that could have made an impact against Austria, as could former Aberdeen players Fraser and McLean.

Newcastle winger Fraser is a goal threat and a versatile player, whilst Norwich City’s McLean in that deep-lying midfield role he plays will also be a miss.

The Scotland squad has depth and will have to prove that in Vienna tonight.

Ultimately, though, the injury absence of one player could offer the opportunity for another to step in and shine.

More rising Dons stars set to emerge

The success of Aberdeen’s youngsters in beating Arbroath indicates there are more rising stars similar to Calvin Ramsay and Jack MacKenzie pushing to make the breakthrough into the first team.

Aberdeen’s B team secured a tremendous result in knocking Championship Arbroath out of the SPFL Trust Trophy second round at Pittodrie.

After conceding a late equaliser, the Dons’ teenagers held their nerve to triumph 4-1 on penalties with keeper Tom Ritchie saving two spot-kicks.

Michael Ruth scores for Aberdeen against Arbroath. Picture by Scott Baxter

I watched Arbroath beat Partick Thistle recently and to beat a strong Championship side is a real feather in the cap for the development programme at Pittodrie.

Playing cup football against a senior side is a tremendous learning process for Aberdeen’s rising talents as they are under real pressure in a knock-out match.

They delivered against Arbroath and also in the previous round when overcoming Highland League Brora Rangers 1-0 away from home.

The Aberdeen players celebrate their penalty shootout win against Arbroath.

Although young players must take a win like that and treasure it, their development is not necessarily about getting results, it is about getting them into the first team.

More important than the result is their development and the instilling self belief for these young players.

That belief that they know can now compete and win at this level.

It will set them up to push hard for a first team place at Aberdeen.

That is what the development programme is about.

Aberdeen will now play Hamilton in the quarter-finals.

Another tough test, but the Dons’ rising stars have shown they are up to the challenge.


This article originally appeared on the Evening Express website. For more information, read about our new combined website.