Scotland manager Alex McLeish will turn to Aberdeen captain Graeme Shinnie at left back following the withdrawal of Kieran Tierney and Andy Robertson for today’s Euro 2020 qualifier in Kazakhstan.
Celtic’s Tierney yesterday joined skipper Robertson in being ruled out for the match at Astana Arena due to a hip problem, although the pair could be fit for Sunday’s match in San Marino.
That means McLeish is now likely to turn to Shinnie, whose only previous international start from five national caps came in a 2-0 friendly defeat away to Mexico last June.
McLeish will have no qualms about handing former Caley Thistle player Shinnie a maiden competitive starting appearance, and he said: “There’s an obvious option in Graeme. He played 90 minutes for us in the Azteca at left-back and also wing back when we changed formation and did it with great aplomb.
“He’s a fantastic athlete in the best form of his career this season. He would be the obvious candidate.
“He’s versatile and can play in different positions across the midfield too. As long as I don’t lose a couple of central defenders and have to play him there.
“Graeme is a very well respected player and he has been a great asset to this squad.”
Should Shinnie be selected, he could be joined by Dons team-mate Scott McKenna, who McLeish confirmed has shrugged off a hamstring problem and is available for selection.
Celtic midfielder Callum McGregor will captain the Scots for the first time in Robertson’s absence, and McLeish added: “His eyes lit up and it was a great feeling to be able to say that to somebody. It was just great to see how chuffed he was as the recipient of the good news.
“It was the same when I told Andy Robertson and big Scott McKenna in Mexico last year.
“He’s just a guy who is a great example to every young footballer in Scotland who wants to be a professional.”
The trip to Kazakhstan marks the start of Scotland’s Euro 2020 qualifying campaign, and although McLeish’s side have already guaranteed a play-offs place by virtue of winning their Nations League campaign, the Scotland boss is determined to keep the momentum going against a side ranked 117th in the world. Scotland are placed 40th at present.
McLeish added: “We are expected to come to places like Kazakhstan and win. We’re ranked about them and that’s the mentality that the players have to get used to. If we can build momentum we can be a threat to anybody.”