Playing strikers Lyndon Dykes and Che Adams in a two-pronged attack will give Scotland the best chance at Euro 2020, insists former international Darren Jackson.
A veteran of Euro 96 and the World Cup in 1998, Jackson believes fielding a strike partnership of Adams and Dykes could be the key to Group D success.
With both strikers finishing the season at club level in scoring form, Jackson believes the duo can deliver goals in the Scots’ bid to qualify from the groups of a major tournament for the first time.
Jackson, 54, accepts the Scots will not dominate possession in their Euro 2020 games, particularly against England and beaten 2018 World Cup finalists Croatia.
Which is why he reckons starting with Dykes and Adams up top could be vital as they will defend from the front and lead the high press.
Jackson, 54. said: “I would love it it Steve went with two up front, but the only way we can do that is if we play five at the back.
“We can’t afford to play 4-4-2 as we’d lose too much in the middle of the pitch.
“I have always like Lyndon Dykes as he’s everything you’d want in a striker.
“He holds the ball up and links play, he’ll run the channels and works his socks off, which you need to do as a Scotland player.
“It’s about high press and working from the front.
“If you watch clips of Gordon Durie at France 98 then he was phenomenal.
“It was always that way with Craig Brown as strikers rarely lasted 90 minutes.
“We are not a team which will dominate the ball or possession, so we need to stop the opposition from playing and that starts from the front.”
Strong finishes to club campaigns by strikers
Both finished their domestic campaigns strongly with Dykes, 25, netting six times in the final eight games of the Championship for QPR to take his season’s tally to 16 goals.
Adams, 24, netted in two of the final three games of the Premier League campaign for Southampton to finish the season on 10 goals.
During that league campaign, Adams netted against Champions League winners Chelsea (3-3 draw) and beaten finalists Manchester City (5-2 loss).
I would love to see the two of them play as they are a threat.
“Scotland don’t score loads of goals, but I believe we have goals in us.”
Adams missed the 2-2 friendly draw with Netherlands as he was one of six players left left behind at the squad’s training camp in Spain as a precautionary measure after John Fleck tested positive for Covid-19.
Jackson said: “I’ve been really impressed with Adams as well.
“Steve will have Adams and Dykes working together at the training camp.
“Not a lot of teams play two up front, strikers play as a one and don’t relate to another striker.
“In my day it was two up front and, if my partner went short, then I would go long.
“Now the striker only needs to worry about his runs, but when you play as a two then they need to be in sync with one another.
“I would love to see the two of them play as they are a threat.
“Scotland don’t score loads of goals, but I believe we have goals in us.”
Clarke will complete his fine tuning for Euro 2020 when Scotland face Luxembourg at the Stade Josy Barthel on Sunday.
Hibs striker Kevin Nisbet has also fired himself into contention, having netted against Netherlands following his introduction as a second half substitute.
— Scotland National Team (@ScotlandNT) June 2, 2021
Steve Clarke’s Scotland have strong mentality
Clarke and his squad overcame Serbia in a nerve-wracking Nations League play-off final penalty shoot-out in November to secure Euro 2020 qualification.
After 23 years of near misses and heartache, Scotland finally qualified for a major tournament for the first time since the 98 World Cup.
Jackson insists the shoot-out triumph is proof of a winning mentality at the heart of the squad that emanates from those playing at the top level for their clubs.
He said: “This Scotland team has handled the big occasions a lot better.
“The qualification tells you that.
“It could be down to the influence of the ones who play for Liverpool, Manchester United, Arsenal and Chelsea plus, of course, the Celtic and Rangers boys.
“Scotland are never going to have 15 world class internationalists.
“I played with top international players.
“Players like myself filled in.
“Do we play a part? Of course we do.
“There are four or five top boys in the squad and you just feed off them – they’re used to playing massive games every week in the Premier League and Premiership.
“Scotland have Celtic and Rangers players having to deal with the high demands every week, expected to win every game.
“These players go into internationals thinking ‘I need to win this.’
“That’s their mentality.
“The team must be confident going into the competition.
“I’m not saying we’re going to blow everyone away.
“But, with the players we’ve got, I am feeling optimistic.”
How do you stop Ronaldo? You can’t
On Monday June 14, the Scots will kick off their Euro 2020 campaign against Czech Republic as they compete in the finals of a major tournament for the first time in a generation.
It will be daunting for Steve Clarke’s side.
However, that still shades in comparison to Scotland’s last appearance in a tournament when Jackson and his team-mates faced holders Brazil in the opening game of the 1998 World Cup in France with a global audience of billions watching.
And with the current best player in the world, Ballon d’Or winner Ronaldo, standing at your side.
Scotland boss Craig Brown had sought out advice on Ronaldo from former England boss Bobby Robson who had managed him at PSV Eindhoven.
He asked how do Scotland stop him?
Robson replied: ‘you can’t, you just stop him getting the ball.’
Jackson said: “It’s hard to explain, standing there ready to walk out for the first game of the World Cup against the world champions.
“I think if you ever want to play in a World Cup, you want to play against Brazil, renowned for being world champions and having the best players in the world.
“The most surreal thing – thinking about where I’d come from in football, the lower leagues in Scotland – was standing in the tunnel before the first game of the World Cup against Brazil.
“I was always last out, and there was Ronaldo stood beside me – only the best player in the world.
“It was an incredible moment and something that lives with me forever.”
Also standing in the tunnel, in the famous yellow of Brazil, before the teams walked out, was future Ballon d’Or winner Rivaldo and other world class stars such as Roberto Carlos, Dunga, Cafu and Bebeto.
Yet Jackson didn’t feel nervous.
Within four minutes Brazil were ahead when Cesar Sampaio had headed in from a corner kick.
John Collins converted a penalty to level in the 38th minute after Kevin Gallagher had been fouled.
Hopes of a memorable result were shattered when Tom Boyd netted a freak own goal in the 73rd minute, with Gordon Durie missing a clear chance late on.
Former Celtic, Newcastle United and Dundee United striker Jackson said: “After they scored about four minutes in, you thought to yourself: ‘Oh no’.
“But the boys handled the occasion absolutely brilliantly.
“I don’t know what it was, I actually wasn’t that nervous on the day.
“I’ve played in Old Firm games, and I was very nervous for them, but I wasn’t nervous against Brazil.
“Craig Brown and the rest of the staff, they relaxed you, they took away the hype from the occasion.
“I was very lucky to be in the squads. I played with top players.”
Jackson got close to the Uefa Euro 2020 trophy when taking part in a Walking Football session.
Glasgow welcomed the Henri Delaunay Cup to Toryglen as it made its penultimate stop on tour before heading to London.
More than 70 participants got the chance to play Walking Football in front of the iconic trophy, as the country looks ahead to Scotland’s first tournament appearance in 23 years.